By Thomas I. Likness
EBC Edmonton Bureau
EDMONTON (Eagle News) — Across Canada on Sunday, thousands gathered to remember the 57 Canadians who perished when a Ukrainian airliner was shot down in Iran.
In the western Canadian city of Edmonton, a standing room only crowd of more than 2,000 people packed a community sports centre to pay tribute to those who died.
Many more, who could not be accommodated, watched the memorial online.
Among those attending was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who offered these words to the thousands of mourners:
“While no words can ease the pain, the grief, the outrage, it is my sincere hope that you can find some comfort in knowing that all Canadians stand with you.”
Trudeau also added Iran must be held to account for shooting down a civilian plane.
“We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that a full transparent investigation is conducted,” promised the prime minister.
“I want to assure all families and all Canadians we will not rest until there are answers,” said Trudeau. “We will not rest until there is justice.”
The mood was sombre during the two-and-a-half-hour event.
The grief in Edmonton was intense because of the relationships among the victims.
Thirteen of the 57 passengers aboard the ill-fated aircraft lived in the Alberta capital. Ten of them were professors and students and family members from the University of Alberta. The other three included a doctor and her two adult daughters.
University of Alberta President Dr. David Turpin said Canada has lost a tremendous body of talented, innovative and entrepreneurial people.
“The individuals lost to us were smart creative thinkers and leaders,” said Turpin.
“Some were at the height of their careers. Others only just beginning to unleash their potential,” he added.
The university’s president of Graduate Student Association, Fahed Elian, said for the past few days he has been weighed down by his emotions.
“I sit as the emotions of grief wash over me, as the unsutured wounds of bereavement are torn open by the stories I hear day after day,” said Elian.
“I sit with confusion, shock, anger and the hopeless agonizing pain of loss,” Elian told the audience.
A slideshow gave those who attended an opportunity to put faces to the names of the victims.
Following the mournful strains of an Arabic folk song, friends and colleagues of the dead honoured them with tributes.
For them, the healing will take time.
In the meantime, they are remembering the legacy of those they lost.
(Eagle News Service)