Remembering Amir Moradi: Marking one year since Queen’s student lost in Ukrainian plane crash

A photo of Amir Moradi surrounded by flowers at the Friday, Jan. 10, 2020 vigil for the Queen’s student who lost his life in the Ukrainian Airlines crash in Iran. Photo by Cris Vilela.

It was one year ago today that people around the world were shocked and saddened by the Ukrainian crash of Flight PS752.

That tragic incident took the lives of 176 people, including 63 Canadians – among them, Queen’s University student Amir Moradi. A 21-year-old student in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Moradi was set to graduate in 2021 before the plane he was in crashed just moments after taking off from the airport in Tehran.

“One year ago, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down minutes after takeoff from Tehran, Iran. 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents were among the 176 people killed. They came from all walks of life — families with children, professionals, newlyweds, university and college students and educators,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

“Today, I want to reach out to the families, the friends, the communities who will forever feel this terrible loss. All Ontarians grieve with you. Our government continues to support our federal counterparts working with the international community to pursue accountability, reparations and justice.”

Upon learning the news a year ago, the Queen’s community came together to mourn the loss of Moradi, with hundreds of students, staff, faculty and alumni filling two large meeting halls within the John Deutsch University Centre two nights later.

“I was expecting to be profoundly sad coming here, and I am,” one student reflected that night, “but I wasn’t expecting to also feel uplifted by seeing so many people here together to grieve this tragedy.”

The disaster also resulted in Queen’s creating a memorial fund in honour of the plane crash victims, and particularly in memory of Moradi. Queen’s Iranian Student Memorial Scholarship Fund was created to provide support to international students from Iran in financial need.

“What it will do… is send two very important messages,” said Queen’s Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand at the time.

“One is that Amir and the other individuals that were on that plane will not be forgotten,” she said. “The second message that it will send is that, in the future, Iranian students will be welcome here at Queen’s and at other universities across Canada, and that they will be able to access support to study here.”

Despite the passage of time, many at Queen’s still remember the tragedy and will mark the anniversary together, though they will do so virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the crash of flight PS752 that killed 176 people, many of them students who studied in Canada,” said Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane on Twitter on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.

“We will remember them during a virtual service organized by the families of the victims. I hope you can participate.”

More details about the virtual service, organized by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims, are available here. “This tragedy will never be forgotten. Together, the people of Ontario will move forward to ensure respect for international law and advocate for the rights of victims and their families,” said Ford.

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