The Carleton community is marking one year since Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed shortly after takeoff near Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020, killing all 176 aboard, including two members of our community.

Flags on campus are flying at half-mast to honour the victims.

Fareed Arasteh, a PhD student and teaching assistant in the Biology Department, and Mansour Pourjam, a Biology alumnus, were among those who died when the plane was brought down by two missiles fired by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

The tragedy shook the Carleton community and, a week after the crash, the university held a vigil on campus attended by hundreds of students, faculty and staff, as well as family members and the broader Ottawa and Iranian-Canadian communities.

Throughout the hour-long vigil, people who knew Fareed and Mansour shared stories about the two men who brought so much joy to others.

“We will never forget these two amazing individuals who had such a positive impact on Carleton and in their communities,” said President Benoit-Antoine Bacon. “We offer our most heartfelt condolences to their families, friends and colleagues who are remembering them on this most tragic anniversary.”

Carleton President Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna, and Reza Samanfar

From left to right: Carleton President Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna, and Reza Samanfar, master’s student in Computer Science.

Prof. Bruce McKay, chair of the Biology Department, also offered his sympathy, saying the catastrophic event was felt deeply by members of the unit and the international students Arasteh had befriended.

“International students are like family to each other and the department becomes their home,” says Prof. Ashkan Golshani, Arasteh’s PhD supervisor and friend. “They were devastated.”

Golshani remembers Arasteh, who had just married his long-time girlfriend in Tehran, as a hard-working student with a bright future.

“He was here for less than five months, but during this time, he made such an impact on everyone. He was very gentle and soft-spoken, but he had an energy for life and was very excited to be starting this new chapter of his life,” recalls Goshani.

Prof. Ashkan Golshani

Prof. Ashkan Golshani

Among the international students close to Fareed Arasteh was his friend and housemate, Reza Samanfar, who graduated with a master’s degree in Computer Science in 2020. The two had been friends in Iran and Samanfar suggested they live together when Arasteh came to Carleton to study.

“Fareed was full of energy, always trying to learn something new and to make a difference,” recalls Samanfar. “He would want everyone to appreciate what life has given them and to be a good human being. He was the best example of that.”

Samanfar recalls the vigil last year and its impact.

“It meant so much to see how many people came and how many were touched by Fareed’s influence and kindness,” says Samanfar. “I wouldn’t have guessed that he had touched so many lives in his short time at Carleton.”

Masoud Pourjam

Masoud, Mansour Pourjam’s brother

Mansour’s family and friends also shared their memories at the gathering of his warmth, sense of humour and positivity. He worked as a denture technician in Bells Corners and lived in Barrhaven.

His brother Masoud remembered dropping him off at Carleton for his first day and how thrilled he was to be attending. Masoud’s then 13-year-old son Ryan also spoke with an eloquence beyond his years about his dad’s strength and his love for him.

Ryan Pourjam

Ryan, Mansour Pourjam’s son

Of the passengers on Flight 752, 57 were Canadian citizens. It was a dark day for Canadian higher education as 61 students or faculty affiliated with 22 Canadian institutions – including Carleton – perished in the tragedy.

The Iran airplane tragedy “transcended national boundaries,” said Fred Afagh, former Engineering dean, and it showed “how our solidarity as humans also transcends those boundaries. If living in Canada has taught us one thing it’s the value of different cultures living together in peace.”

Carleton Remembers: Honouring Those Lost in Tragic Plane Crash

Thursday, January 7, 2021 in
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