By Sam Arseneau
Photos of the victims of the Iran plane crash and their families displayed at the front of MacMillan Hall (Photo credits: Sam Arseneau)
On January 13th, the UPEI Chaplaincy Centre teamed with the UPEI Iranian Society and members of the Persian community of PEI to hold a vigil in honour of the victims of the Ukraine Airlines crash in Iran.
Flags on UPEI campus were lowered to half-mast yesterday to commemorate the fatal crash of Ukrainian flight. They will remain this way until January 15th, marking one week after the incident.
The vigil was held in McMillan Hall and was open to all guests. The hall was quickly filled entirely with only a limited standing room remaining.
The hour-long program began with a moment of silence lead by Sister Sue.
Flight PS752 took 176 lives, including 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three Britons according to official reports.
A member of the PEI Persian Community, Ali Saidat, gave a heartfelt speech in his native language with live accompanying music.
Saidat’s speech about the support and love received from Islanders left many members of the crowd in tears, both Iranian and Canadian.
In attendance were siblings Aria and Ava Nabei-Zadeh, whose aunt and cousin were among the 176 people in the fatal crash of flight PS752. Nabei-Zadeh spoke about his personal experience in grieving his aunt and cousin.
Elmira Moghimi, UPEI Iranian Society president, expressed her sentiments towards the tragic fatal crash.
To end the ceremony, UPEI President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz presented his strong sentiment about the tragedy. Dr. Abd-El-Aziz repetitively mentioned the need to ensure this kind of incident does not occur again and that each individual must play their own role in making certain this kind of incident does not happen again.
After the vigil formally ended many individuals from the crowd stayed and offered condolences and hugs were shared around the room.
A major theme throughout the night was the sense of community on all levels, university, provincial, and national.