Thunder Bay

'They each had a story': Lakehead University holds vigil Saturday to honour victims of Iran plane crash

Victims of the crash of flight PS752, which went down shortly after taking off from the Tehran airport Wednesday, will be remembered in a vigil Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Vigil begins at 2 p.m. at Agora, will feature poetry, music and reading of list of victims' names

Mourners laid down portraits and lit candles at a vigil in Toronto on Thursday, a day after a plane crash in Iran killed all 176 on board. 63 of the passengers were Canadian citizens and another 75 were connecting to Canada. The multicultural centre and Iranian Cultural Association at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., are holding a vigil for the victims on Saturday Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Victims of the crash of flight PS752, which went down shortly after taking off from the Tehran airport Wednesday, will be remembered in a vigil Saturday afternoon at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

All 176 passengers and crew were killed. Sixty-three of those people were Canadian citizens, while another 75 had connections to this country. The Iranian community in Canada has been devastated by the loss of so many lives, many of them young professionals and even families.

Although so far no one in Thunder Bay has been directly affected by the crash and its aftermath, everyone is feeling the pain of such overwhelming death and destruction, said Niloufar Sadroddini, the centre's coordinator and an executive member of the Lakehead Iranian Cultural Association (LICA).

'Too much bad news'

"Heartbroken," she said, adding that when she heard about the crash she felt "absolute shock. I actually deactivated my social media accounts because it was too much bad news."

Sadroddini said when she first looked at the list of the dead and didn't recognize any of the names "there was a sigh of relief." But then she began to grasp the magnitude of tragedy.

"There's a connection. We may not have known any of these individuals, any of these victims but at the end of the day we're brothers and sisters, we're from the same community."

Reinforcing that sense of the community was one of the motivating factors behind hosting a vigil.

'Here to help and support'

Sadroddini said because she is from Canada, she has a support system of friends and family, but that not be the case for the university's many international students.

"They're so far and they may need this closure. They may need to see they're not alone with their feelings, with the pain that they're going through and that we're here to help and to support."

She has been overwhelmed by the many texts and kind gestures she has received from people who are not a part of the Iranian community and finds this national and international display of unity "sadly beautiful".

Sadroddini said the vigil, which will feature poetry and music, offers everyone a chance to come together and show their love and support for anyone affected by this tragedy.

'Would want to hear our loved ones names'

"We will be reading the names of those lost because we strongly believe they each had a story and if there was someone we'd known, we'd want to hear our loved ones names from near or far so that's really it, to be together, to remember, to mourn, to love and for healing I guess."

Everyone is invited to attend the vigil, which takes place from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday Jan. 11 at the Agora at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

To remember, celebrate, mourn, heal and support. A vigil will be held in Thunder Bay to remember those who died on board a flight that took off from Iran en route to Ukraine before crashing. All on board died, including 63 Canadians. It's being organized by the university's multicultural centre and its Iranian Cultural Association. Niloufar Sadroddini is both the coordinator of the centre and an executive member of the association. 6:58