The Current

'It means a lot' to see Canadians come together to mourn Iran plane crash, says vigil organizer

One of the organizers of a Toronto vigil for victims of the Flight 752 crash in Iran told The Current it was moving to see so much support from the broader Canadian community.

Hundreds gathered Thursday night for tribute in Toronto's Mel Lastman Square

Mourners laid down portraits and lit candles at a vigil in Toronto in Mel Lastman Square, Jan 9 2020. Dozens of the victims lived, worked and studied in the Greater Toronto Area. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

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A candlelit vigil in Toronto's Mel Lastman square on Thursday night was just one of many across the country to pay tribute to the victims of the Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752 crash outside Tehran. 

Hundreds attended, including Toronto Mayor John Tory and Mark Mendicino, the federal minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. Many lit candles and placed flowers in front of photos of the victims.

The crash killed all 176 people aboard. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that 138 of the passengers were headed to Canada; 63 were Canadian citizens.

Mourners attend a vigil at Toronto's Mel Lastman Square for the victims of the Flight PS752 crash, on Jan. 9, 2020. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Seeing the huge crowds at the event was moving for Zarrin Mohyeddin, one of the vigil's organizers (She is also the mother of one of The Current's producers, Samira Mohyeddin).

She spoke to The Current's host Matt Galloway about what that show of support meant to her. Here's part of their conversation.

What have the last 48 hours or so been like for you? You helped organize this vigil, but even before then, as people were coming to terms with the scale and the scope of this tragedy, what's that been like for you?

It's very, very hard, I believe, for all the Iranian Canadian community. And ... we wanted the community to come together to show their unity and to honour the people that lost their life.

Zarrin Mohyeddin was one of the organizers of the Jan. 9, 2020 vigil in Toronto's Mel Lastman Square for the victims of the Flight 752 crash. (Submitted by Zarrin Mohyeddin)

Tell me a little bit about what you saw and what you heard last night. 

It was a very good turnout ... people gathered in Mel Lastman Square and unified together to honour those people that we lost. 

And everybody was upset. Some people were very angry. As I said before, it's sad because it's a question: Why [did] this happen?

There were politicians there as well.

Yes, the mayor of Toronto was there, members of parliament were there, the minister of citizenship and immigration was there.

Why was it important for you to have those leaders there as well? 

Because we wanted to know to show to the people, especially to people in Iran as well too [who] are mourning right now for their loved ones, and [to those] here in Canada, that we are all unified in Canada.

And I really appreciate all the efforts [of] the government of Canada and especially the media of Canada that [are covering] this tragic accident. 

One of the things that I've heard from friends in the community is that they are heartened that this is being treated as a Canadian tragedy, not as a tragedy to a specific community.

It's our story; it's all of our stories. What does that mean to you? 

It means a lot. That we're really in [a] safe haven ... that we came here to get a safe haven, and we are here. 

And we are so lucky that we live together with the Canadians, I mean, [the broader Canadian community]. And it's a very heartwarming feeling, with this situation that we have right now in grief. 

Torontonians attend a vigil at Mel Lastman Square for the victims of the Flight 752 crash . (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Did you see that at the vigil last night? That you saw the swath of the country there, not just people from the Iranian-Canadian community? 

Yes, yes, exactly. It was fantastic.

You mentioned the various emotions that were there. And people are obviously still in shock. And there's a lot of grief and a lot of sorrow. But you mentioned anger as well. Tell me about anger. Are you angry at what happened? 

I am very angry, too. You know, it is a different emotion and it's bothering because on one hand, you are very emotional and also very sad. But on the other hand, you are very angry that you don't have any answers. 

Mourners at the vigil in Mel Lastman Square (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

You can't get any answers because you are dealing with a government that always deny what they have done. 

What about the community here? What happens now with this community?

They want answers. And they are asking the government of Canada to investigate, demanding the Iranian government let them know what's happened. That's all we want from the government of Canada. 

Written by Allie Jaynes. Produced by Ines Colabrese, Ben Jamieson and Julie Crysler. 


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