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Hundreds attending candlelight vigil in honour of GTA victims killed in Iran plane crash | - News

Hundreds are attending a candlelight vigil in honour of Toronto-area victims killed in the Iran plane crash.A vigil in honour of the Iran plane crash victims will be held at the North York Civic Centre Thursday evening. 0:00Hundreds are attending a candlelight vigil in honour of Toronto-area victims killed in the Iran plane crash.  The event comes one day after dozens of Torontonians were identified as victims of the Ukrainian airliner crash in Tehran that killed all 176 people on board.  Friends, family, city councillors and members of the community have gathered at the North York Civic Centre, located at 5095 Yonge St., near Yonge Street and Sheppard Ave. W, to mourn the lives lost. “We really want this to be a time for the community to come together in these difficult times,” said Bijan Ahmadi, the executive director of the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy, who helped organize the event.  “It’s a very difficult time.”  The crash sent shock waves across Toronto or “Tehranto,” as the city is dubbed by many people of Iranian descent living in the city.  About 100,000 Iranians live in the GTA. It is the second largest Iranian community outside Iran, surpassed only by Los Angeles. More GTA victims identified The Ukrainian airliner crashed in Iran on Wednesday, killing 63 Canadians. It was one of the biggest, single death tolls involving Canadian citizens in recent times. CBC Toronto is still working to confirm the identities of other victims believed to have connections to the GTA. CBC News learned Thursday that four members of the same family, including a five-year-old girl, died in the crash. Vahid Emami identified his daughter Sophie Emami, 5, and his wife, Sahand Sadeghi, 39, as among those who died. The three lived together in their North York home.  His brother-in-law Alvand Sadeghi and sister-in-law Negar Borghei, both in their late 20s, were also killed in the crash. The pair resided in Toronto, but Borghei was studying in Montreal.  ‘I cannot stop crying’ A close friend of a North York mother and her two children also told CBC Toronto Thursday that all three died in the crash.  Mahdieh Ghassemi, 38, and her two children Arsan Niazi, 11, and Arnica Niazi, 8, were confirmed to be among the dead.  Mourners attend a vigil at the University of Toronto for victims of a Ukrainian plane which crashed in Iran on Jan. 8, 2020. Another vigil is taking place Thursday evening at the North York Civic Centre. (Chris Helgren/Reuters) Reihaneh Vahedi told CBC Toronto Thursday morning that she and Ghassemi, an architect, had been friends for 12 years.  “Arsan was a gifted boy. He was talking [in] three languages and he liked airplanes,” Vahedi said. “Arnica was really kind and gifted too … She loved dancing, singing, acting and drawing.”  Vahedi says she spoke to Ghassemi on the phone the day before the family’s flight.   “We [were] close friends, we talked on the phone every day,” she said.   “I cannot stop crying.”  A full list of victims with ties to the GTA is available here. U of T vigil held Wednesday  Numerous professionals from across the GTA are among the 138 victims who were headed to Canada when the plane went down, including dentist Dr. Farhad Niknam, who worked in the Toronto-area. “Words cannot describe how sad and heartbroken we all are. May they rest in peace,” the Iranian Ontario Dental Association said in a statement. “We would like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones.”  Many victims in the Toronto-area were also students travelling back to Canada after the winter break, according to a spokesperson for the Iranian Canadian Congress. The community and many Canadians remain in mourning on Thursday.  A vigil was held Wednesday night at U of T to honour the victims. Several of the school’s students were identified as among the dead.  ‘I feel this incredible sadness’ Among them was Zeynab Asadi-Lari, who was studying health sciences at University of Toronto Mississauga.  Mahdieh Ghassemi, 38, and her two children Arsan Niazi, 11, and Arnica Niazi, 8, were killed in Wednesday’s crash. (Submitted by Reihaneh Vahedi) Fiona Rawle, an associate professor at U of T who taught biology to Asadi-Lari, remembers her as a kind, diligent student who was always seeking further opportunities and pushing to get better. “As a professor, one of my greatest joys is watching students pursue their dreams, and I feel this incredible sadness that Zeynab won’t get the chance to do that,” she said.  “What I can say to her parents and family is what we can do is just try not to forget.”  Rawle says Asadi-Lari made herself known in a biology class of about 1,000 students — both for her questions and her diligence in seeking extra guidance during Tawle’s office hours.   Asadi-Lari was also the president of the school’s newly formed STEM fellowship club, which pushed for increased learning opportunities for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  “From what I saw, Zeynab was this incredible mix of [being] fiercely competitive with herself and driving hard in school, but then incredibly collaborative with other people,” she said.  The university issued a statement saying it was deeply saddened to see its students’ names on the plane’s manifest. Pictured here is Zeynab Asadi-Lari, who was identified as victim of Wednesday’s plane crash along with Mohammad Hossein Asadi-Lari. She was described as a kind person who spoke highly of her loved ones. (Zeynab Asadi-Lari/Facebook) “The university’s three campuses are united in mourning the loss of the victims and offering sympathy and condolences to their families and friends,” said a U of T statement, noting it would provide more information in the coming days. Another vigil is expected to take place on Friday at the office of the Iranian Women’s Organization of Ontario, located near Sheppard Avenue East and Don Mills Road. 

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