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12 B.C. residents among 63 Canadians killed in Tehran plane crash



At least 12 B.C. residents were among 63 Canadians killed when a Boeing 737 plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran Wednesday.

At least 12 B.C. residents were among 63 Canadians killed when a Boeing 737 plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran Wednesday.

The Boeing Co. 737-800 jetliner bound for Ukraine that crashed after takeoff in Iran, was most likely brought down by an engine fire, according to a Reuters story.

Many of the passengers were due to take a connecting flight from Kyiv onwards to Toronto.


On Wednesday afternoon, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that connecting flight landed in Toronto with 138 empty seats, indicating that in addition to the 63 Canadians who had died, a further 70-plus non-citizens were bound for Canada as their final destination.

Ukraine International Airlines said all 167 passengers and nine crew members onboard the plane died in the crash. Names of the passengers who were onboard Flight PS752 have been released by the airline.

Here are some of the B.C. residents among those on Flight PS752.

Delaram Dadashnejad

Langara College student Delaram Dadashnejad, 26, was identified as one of the victims by Iran‘s ISNA news agency after the student’s B.C. identity card was found among the wreckage.

Langara president Dr. Lane Trotter said Dadashnejad was an international student taking university transfer classes, and was flying home to Vancouver after a visit with family in Tehran.

“On behalf of the Langara College community, I would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Delaram Dadashnejad,” Trotter said in a statement.

“The loss of one of our students is one that impacts our entire community. Our Counselling and International Education team will be providing support for our students, while staff and faculty have access to our Employee and Family Assistance Program.

“We are heartbroken over the fatal tragedy that took place; our thoughts and prayers are with those in mourning from this incident.”

B.C. student Delaram Dadashnejad has been named as one of the victims in Wednesday’s plane crash in Tehran.


Mother Ayeshe Pourghaderi and daughter Fatemeh Pasavand

Arash Azrahimi, who owns Rosewood Photography in North Vancouver, said some of the victims were his clients, including a mother, Ayeshe Pourghaderi, 36, and her daughter Fatemeh Pasavand, 17, who lived in North Vancouver.

They are survived by husband/father Amir Pasavand, who owns Amir Bakery on Lonsdale Avenue.

A vigil was planned at the bakery on Wednesday evening.

From left to right Ayeshe Pourghaderi, Amir Pasavand and their daughter Fatemeh Pasavand.


Dr. Firouzeh Madani and Dr. Naser Pourshabanoshibi

Also from North Vancouver and killed in the crash were Dr. Firouzeh Madani and Dr. Naser Pourshabanoshibi.

Madani immigrated to Canada from Iran in September 2013 with her husband and daughter.

In an archived blog post on the New To BC website, Madani was interviewed about her experience working to transfer her medical skills and qualifications to Canada.

“For my husband and I, the biggest challenge faced was finding a job, but the other issue we faced was the fact that our daughter was starting high school in a foreign country,” she said.

In 2015, Madani had taken one of the required three exams that would allow her to begin practicing medicine in Canada. The blog post also spoke about Madani’s support from MOSAIC and Back in Motion – Skills Connect in order to secure work after immigrating. Madani had also spent time working with the North Vancouver City Library as a library champion.

Majid Mahichi, who runs Persian television studio Parvaz TV, is a childhood friend of Pourshabanoshibi who reconnected with him after the latter immigrated in 2013.

“He was one of the top students in town,” said Mahichi. “They decided to upgrade their education in Canada so they moved to a better life here.”

Mahichi said Pourshabanoshibi was kind and highly focused on education.

“Always thinking about a good future, you know? That’s why he moved to Canada, to have a better life,” he told Postmedia.

They are survived by their daughter Kimia Pourshaban Oshibi.

Dr. Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Dr. Firouzeh Madani were aboard Flight PS752 when it crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran.


Couple Mohammad Hossein (Daniel) Saket and Fatemeh (Faye) Kazerani

North Vancouver couple Mohammad Hossein (Daniel) Saket and Fatemeh Kazerani also died, according to relative Farzad Taheri. Taheri said Saket, born in 1986, was an engineer and Kazerani, born in 1987, was a dental hygienist.

A photo of the couple, along with a notebook where people could write their memories and condolences, sat on the counter of a North Vancouver development on which Saket had worked. Saket’s employer, Denna Homes, planned to hold a memorial on Saturday.

Vancouver couple Mohammad Hossein (Daniel) Saket and Fatemeh Kazerani were killed in a plane crash Wednesday in Tehran.

Coquitlam family Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi, and Niloofar Razzaghi

Three members of a Port Coquitlam family have also been identified as victims – husband and wife Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi and Niloofar Razzaghi, and their teenaged son Kamyar Ebnoddin-Hamidi.

Shahram Hamraz of Coquitlam knew the family through the Tri-City Iranian Cultural Society, an organization where Ardalan, the husband and father, served as a board member.

Hamraz described the family as “very positive in the community.”

“They were so active in our community… and it’s a small community,” Hamraz said. “So it is a loss, really.”

Ardalan Evnoddin-Hamidi, 48, Niloofar Razzaghi, 45, and, Hamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi, 15, of Coquitlam were among the passengers killed when Ukrainian airliner crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran on Wednesday.

Niloofar Razzaghi Facebook photo

Brother and sister Zeynab Asadi Lari and Mohammad Asadi Lari

Brother and sister Zeynab Asadi Lari and Mohammad Asadi Lari, both former UBC students, also died in the crash.

According to social media posts, the brother and sister have recently been living in the Toronto area.

UBC president and vice-chancellor Santa Ono said Zeynab enrolled at UBC in 2016 in the Bachelor of Science program, with a biology major, while Mohammad graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in cellular, anatomical and physiological sciences with honours standing.

Mohammad was also co-founder of the STEM fellowship, a youth-run Canadian non-profit organization that uses mentors to give students skills in data science and scholarly writing.

“On behalf of the UBC community, I wish to express my deepest condolences to their family, friends and loved ones,” Ono said in a statement. “This is a challenging time for UBC’s Iranian students, faculty and staff and we understand developments internationally and domestically in Iran are a cause of deep concern for them.”

Former UBC student Zeynab Asadi Lari was among the victims of the plane crash Wednesday in Tehran. She was studying in Vancouver.

Former UBC student Mohammad Asadi Lari was among the passengers killed when Ukrainian airliner crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran on Wednesday.


What people are saying

B.C. Premier John Horgan said the province joins with nations around the world in “mourning this tragic loss of life.”

President of Langara College Lane Trotter offered condolences to the family of Dadashnejad on behalf of the community at Langara.

Trotter said Delaram was an international student taking university transfer classes, and was flying home to Vancouver after a visit with family in Tehran.

“The loss of one of our students is one that impacts our entire community. Our Counselling and International Education team will be providing support for our students, while staff and faculty have access to our Employee and Family Assistance Program,” Trotter said, in a statement.

“We are heartbroken over the fatal tragedy that took place; our thoughts and prayers are with those in mourning from this incident.”

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said he was “deeply saddened by the news” and offered condolences to the families.

“My thoughts and condolences are with the loved ones of everyone who was on board Flight 752. We do know some of those lost were from British Columbia’s Persian community, and we are offering our support to the entire community during this terrible time,” he said, in a statement Wednesday.

“On behalf of the entire BC Liberal Caucus, I want to extend my deepest and most sincere sympathies to the friends and loved ones of all the passengers and flight crew.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “shocked and saddened” and said the Canadian government will work closely with its international partners to ensure that this crash is thoroughly investigated.

— With files from Reuters


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Statistics Canada to start collecting race-based crime data –



Statistics Canada says it plans to start collecting race-based crime data — a step that comes amid mounting criticism of how law enforcement agencies across Canada police marginalized communities. 

The national statistics agency and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police will begin working with partners and stakeholders this year to figure out how to collect sound data when reporting on victims and accused, according to a news release sent Wednesday morning.

The CACP is a non-profit that represents about 1,300 police chiefs from federal, First Nations, provincial, regional, transportation and military police services across the country.

“The need for quality data about the experience of Indigenous peoples and ethno-cultural communities with Canada’s criminal justice system is paramount to understanding the extent to which people from these communities are represented in Canada’s criminal justice system, beginning with their interactions with the police,” said Stu Betts, deputy chief of the London Police Service and co-chair of the CACP’s statistics committee.

The move is something advocates have called for to get a better sense of how crime impacts different communities, though some have cautioned that data collection alone won’t solve the problem of racial profiling.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and groups such as Canadian Race Relations Foundation have both pushed for this kind of data collection, the release says.

The announcement comes as police forces across Canada face a reckoning about how they police marginalized communities following a number of high-profile deaths.

Anil Arora, the chief statistician of Canada, said this kind of data collection could impact decisions going forward.

“Statistics Canada is committed to working with the CACP to ensure Canada’s official police-reported crime statistics reflect indigenous and ethno-cultural groups,” he said in a statement. 

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki committed to working with the federal privacy commissioner on the collection of race-based policing data during a committee meeting on systemic racism in policing last month.

“Providing a clearer picture of police interactions with racialized communities is vital to maintaining the trust and respect of Canadians,” she tweeted Wednesday morning, reacting to the Statistics Canada announcement.

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International air travel to Canada continues to rise, despite coronavirus border restrictions –



Despite growing concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus abroad, including record-breaking numbers in several U.S. states, the volume of international travellers arriving at Canadian airports each week continues to rise.

Between June 29 and July 12, roughly 91,300 travellers entered Canada by air, according to statistics released by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Read more:
As travel increases, Canada boosting presence of health officials at airports, U.S. border

Of these, roughly 27,000 passengers arrived on flights from the U.S., while 64,000 came from other countries directly. About 40,000 of the 91,000 passengers were either non-Canadian citizens or non-permanent residents.

The CBSA does not provide a breakdown of which countries people arrive from specifically, other than the U.S., but has previously said any foreign national must meet exemption requirements outlined in the government’s orders banning non-essential travel before they are allowed to enter Canada.

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This includes immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, temporary foreign workers, international students or valid work permit holders, and anyone whose work is considered essential.

Coronavirus: Why reopening the Canada-US border too soon could mean a ‘second wave’

Coronavirus: Why reopening the Canada-US border too soon could mean a ‘second wave’

As Global News reported last week, the number of air travellers arriving in Canada has increased significantly since late April, when the volume of international passengers was at its lowest during the pandemic.

In late April, the number of passengers arriving in Canada each week averaged roughly 15,000. By mid to late June, this figure increased to roughly 30,000 a week.

During the first two weeks of July it averaged roughly 45,000 a week.

Read more:
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Overall, air travel to Canada is down by about 95 per cent compared to this time last year, when more than 800,000 people a week entered the country on international flights.

The government previously told Global News the recent increase in international air travel is likely due to several factors, including Canadians and permanent residents returning home who previously couldn’t do so due to travel restrictions in other countries, a small number of reuniting family members, and foreign nationals exempt to current border restrictions.

CBSA does not ‘systematically track’ exemptions

There have been concerns in recent weeks that a small number of international travellers could be taking advantage or skirting the rules for who’s allowed to enter Canada.

These concerns are primarily about Americans who crossed the Canada-U.S. land forder using the “Alaska exemption” and were then spotted sightseeing, even though they are required to drive directly from the border to Alaska.

Read more:
Canadians allowed to travel to Europe amid coronavirus pandemic

Police have also issued fines to travellers for failing to self-isolate for 14 days after entering Canada, including a Florida couple charged by Ontario Provincial Police.

Meanwhile, the recent spike in air travel has also caused concern.

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Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and professor at the University of Toronto, told Global News he was distrubed by the increase in travellers between late April and June. He also said he had a hard time believing the increase was due exclusively to “essential” travel.

“Governments keep on saying people shouldn’t (travel). We’ve got to stop saying shouldn’t and start saying can’t,” Furness said.

Concerns raised over American tourists using ‘Alaskan loophole’ during pandemic

Concerns raised over American tourists using ‘Alaskan loophole’ during pandemic

Since May 25, when the CBSA started reporting weekly updates on the number of Canadians and permanent residents entering Canada by air, there have been roughly 108,000 foreign nationals who have arrived in Canada on international flights, including from the U.S.

Global News previously asked the government to provide a breakdown of the exemptions used to allow foreign nationals to enter Canada, plus a breakdown of travellers by nationality, but was told this information is not available.

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“The statistics you have requested are not available as we do not systematically track this information,” said CBSA spokesperson Mark Stuart in email from June 25.

Read more:
Is it safe to go on vacation this summer? Experts break down travel options

Before boarding a plane bound for Canada all passengers must undergo a temperature check. They’re also asked if they are ill or have symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Upon arriving in Canada, passengers are asked by border officials if they have a fever, cough or if they feel sick. Those who say yes, and those who say no but appear to be sick, are referred to officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada for additional screening. Passengers are also observed for signs of illness by border officials at different locations throughout the airport, including baggage and arrivals areas.

B.C. government closing popular Peace Arch Park at Canada-U.S. border

B.C. government closing popular Peace Arch Park at Canada-U.S. border

Anyone entering Canada is also required to self-isolate for 14 days — unless they’re an essential worker, in which case they’re exempt from this requirement — and must complete a contact tracing form so health officials can connect.

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Global News asked the government for comment about the most recent weekly statistics. A spokesperson for CBSA said no new information was available.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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How the Hong Kong protests led to the downfall of a renowned Canadian jeweller –



The company that mines Alberta’s official gemstone is on the verge of collapse after pro-democracy protests and the pandemic have combined to wipe out its biggest markets.

Ammolite is a rare iridescent gem found almost exclusively in Alberta, and Korite International, headquartered in Calgary, now produces about 90 per cent of the world’s supply. It was recently a rising star in the world of precious stones, with demand surging in 2017. But the company’s fortunes began to crumble when the unrest began in Hong Kong. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated its mounting financial losses, and Korite obtained creditor protection on June 30.

Ammolite is regarded as a Canadian national treasure, meaning the federal government must approve all applications to export it.

Ammolite comes from the shells of fossilized sea creatures called ammonites. It can be found in several places around the globe, but those found in a southern Alberta river basin are unique because of a thick layer of colour and iridescence, which are ideal for manufacturing gems.

“All the colours are on top of each other, the same as a rainbow — and it’s all natural. So that makes it one of the rarest gemstones in the world,” Rene Trudel, Korite’s operation field manager, told CBC News in 2017.

“In this sediment, the preservation is incredible … you cannot find anywhere else the full spectrum [of colours].”

Rainbow-hued ammolite, a rare gem found only in a southern Alberta river basin, studs a piece of shale held by so-called spotters who watch for its shine as the shale is excavated. The ring on the left shows an example of the processed gemstone. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

In 2015, a group of Calgary investors, including former company president Jay Maull, took over Korite with ambitious plans to grow the business, scaling up mining operations and partnering with a distributor in Asia as they tried to raise the gem’s profile. 

When they took over, the Korite mine, located south of Lethbridge, was expanded from less than one hectare to more than three hectares as the company said it was scrambling to keep up with surging demand. Executives had also reached a deal with a Chinese distributor to boost sales of ammolite jewelry in that country. 

China has a unique interest in ammolite because Feng Shui experts are said to believe the gems can enhance health, wealth and wisdom. 

In efforts to boost its domestic profile, the company signed a deal to sponsor the Calgary Stampede Royalty and was the official jewelry licensee for Canada 150, the year-long celebration in 2017 that marked the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

This 11-inch ammolite piece has a value of about $500,000. The fossils have been buried for the past 71 million years. The combination of heat and pressure turned the squid-like mollusc called an ammonite into the rainbow-coloured ammolite gem. (VPD)

The financial hardships began last year. A large portion of the company’s sales in Asia were at trade shows in Hong Kong, but those events were cancelled amid ongoing massive and sometimes violent protests, resulting in the loss of over $2.4 million in anticipated sales, according to insolvency documents filed by the company. 

“Hong Kong people appreciate precious gems — the rarer, the better,” said Gordon Houlden, a former diplomat who has worked in Beijing and Hong Kong and is now director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta. He was in Hong Kong last year when Korite was at an exhibition showcasing its product to Chinese buyers.

“The demonstrations created an unusual situation: Transport was disrupted, occasional disruptions to the airport. I thought overall it was manageable, but it was having an effect on the local economy,” he said. COVID-19 has been far more challenging for Canadian companies who operate in Asia because of the travel restrictions, he said.

Korite was unable to recover this year as the situation in Hong Kong persists and revenues elsewhere in the world began to dry up amid the pandemic. 

The first ammolite mine became operational in 1983, and four others have been dug since. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

The company also sells ammonite in places like tourist shops in Banff, on cruise ships and in Caribbean holiday ports. Those business lines were all hit hard as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the near total shutdown of the travel industry.

Three years ago, Korite had 280 employees worldwide. According to documents, the company currently has 12 staff members and an additional 31 employees who have been temporarily laid-off because of the pandemic.

Since early March, Korite has not recorded any new sales in the retail and cruise sectors, according to the documents, with a loss of over $6.1 million in anticipated sales. 

At the end of April, the company had liabilities of $16.4 million and listed assets of about $20 million, including more than $6 million in property, equipment and mineral rights.

As with so many companies right now, the financial outlook for Korite is difficult to assess as Hong Kong remains volatile for an indefinite period and the global tourism sector is expected to take several years to recover. Even as some retail shops have reopened, there have not yet been any new orders for jewelry.

The company can’t sustain itself and must restructure its balance sheet and operating costs, according to documents.

Calls and emails requesting interviews with company officials were not returned.

The process is underway to find investors or sell either the company or assets, according to court documents, to help pay creditors.

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