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A small group of people gathered for candlelight vigil

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A small group of people gathered at Iqaluit’s Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum for a candlelight vigil on Saturday, honouring those who died in the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752.

“I posted something on our community discussion page, on Facebook, to see if there would be any interest of people to gather,” said Iranian-Canadian Iqalummiuq Sima Sahar Zerehi, “and I was shocked that so many people sent messages of support.”

The repercussions of the crash that claimed the lives of 176 people, including 57 Canadians, have reached even to the small Iranian communities of Canada’s northern capitals.

“It was another [piece of] terrible news in a series of terrible news from the region,” said Ramin Mostmand, an Iranian-Canadian who lives in Yellowknife. “This news is really taking a toll on everyone.”

In Yellowknife’s small Iranian community, as in Iqaluit, many were only one or two degrees of separation from victims of the crash, he said.

Longtime Yellowknifer Roya Yazdanmehr, whose family roots are in both Iran and Ukraine, had a personal connection to Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand, a couple killed in the crash.

“This couple were an instrumental force at the University of Alberta for mentoring many students,” she said. “My husband was one of those students.”

She said Mousavi made it possible for her husband to study in Canada, where they met and were married.

“I feel deeply indebted to them for their kindness and mentorship, and everything they’ve done for my husband,” she said.

“This has been a week of reflecting on that and seeing how interconnected we truly are,” said Yazdanmehr.

 

A police officer stands guard near debris from Flight PS752, southwest of Tehran. The Iranian government has said the plane was shot down in error. (Ebrahim Noroozi/The Associated Press)

 

Connecting ‘on the level of the heart’

Though at first denied by the Iranian government, the military later acknowledged the flight was shot down in error, what Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called a “disastrous mistake.”

The incident followed closely on the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani by U.S. forces.

Amid the rising political tensions, Yazdanmehr said she has been asking herself how she can “feel empowered in [her] own community … in a time when it’s easy to sink into despair.”

She said she’s been focusing on small steps, like organizing devotional gatherings, that she can take to “translate grief into action.”

“That’s been helpful in coping, and remembering that there is so much good in this world, and so many people … who are striving to build a better civilization,” she said.

This has been a week of … seeing how interconnected we truly are.– Roya Yazdanmehr

“I see so much love and coming together, and a shared experience of grief,” said Yazdanmehr. “That has been profound…. Perhaps some communities that once felt separate are identifying more so as one.”

“In Nunavut, we don’t have an Iranian-Canadian community in the same way that we have in other parts of Canada,” said Zerehi, who organized Iqaluit’s vigil.

“Oftentimes, when you’re a part of an immigrant community, you feel that you matter less to Canada and Canadians than others,” she said. “It’s just beautiful to see people across Canada care.”

“We need that support to continue, because the community is going through a very difficult time.”

In Yellowknife, Mostmand agreed that the tragedy has brought communities together in grief.

“In tragedies like this, there is always the human sentiment that comes out,” said Mostmand. “Ordinary people just connect to each other on the level of the heart, regardless of where we come from.”

“That’s the humanity that I believe in, that helps me be optimistic amidst all [this] bad news.”

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Former U.S. President Clinton leaves hospital, will return to New York

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Former U.S. President Bill Clinton walked out of a Southern California hospital on Sunday after being admitted last week for a Urological Infection, live video showed.

Clinton, 75, will return to New York and remain on antibiotics, Dr. Alpesh Amin, who had been overseeing his care at the hospital, said in a statement released by Clinton’s spokesman. His fever and white blood cell count have normalized, Amin added.

The former president had been in California for an event for his foundation and was treated at the University of California Irvine Medical Center’s intensive care unit after suffering from fatigue and being admitted on Tuesday.

He left the medical center accompanied by his wife, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The two-term president, who has had previous heart problems, held the White House from 1993 to 2001.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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China condemns U.S., Canada for sending warships through Taiwan Strait

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The  Chinese military on Sunday condemned the United States and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait last week, saying they were threatening peace and stability in the region.

China claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year, provoking anger in Taipei.

China sent around 150 aircraft into the zone over a four-day period beginning on Oct. 1 in a further heightening of tension between Beijing and Taipei that has sparked concern internationally.

The U.S. military said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed through the narrow waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbour China along with the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday.

“Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it added.

China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said its forces monitored the ships and “stood guard” throughout their passage.

“The United States and Canada colluded to provoke and stir up trouble… seriously jeopardising peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” it said.

“Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. Theatre forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations.”

U.S. Navy Ships have been transiting the strait roughly monthly, to the anger of Beijing, which has accused Washington of stoking regional tensions. U.S. allies occasionally also send ships through the strait, including Britain https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/british-frigate-sails-through-taiwan-strait-2021-09-27last month.

While tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen, there has been no shooting and Chinese aircraft have not entered Taiwanese air space, concentrating their activity in the southwestern part of the ADIZ.

While including Taiwanese territorial air space, the ADIZ encompasses a broader area that Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Sunday that three Chinese aircraft – two J-16 fighters and an anti-submarine aircraft – flew into the ADIZ again.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing, Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Pravin Char and John

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No end in sight to volcanic eruption on Spain’s La Palma – Canaries president

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There’s no immediate end in sight to the  volcanic eruption that has caused chaos on the Spanish isle of La Palma since it began about a month ago, the president of the Canary Islands said on Sunday.

There were 42 seismic movements on the island on Sunday, the largest of which measured 4.3, according to the Spanish National Geographical Institute.

“There are no signs that an end of the eruption is imminent even though this is the greatest desire of everyone,” President Angel Víctor Torres said at a Socialist party conference in Valencia, citing the view of scientists.

Streams of lava have laid waste to more than 742 hectares (1833 acres) of land and destroyed almost 2,000 buildings on La Palma since the volcano started erupting on Sept. 19.

About 7,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island, which has about 83,000 inhabitants and forms part of the Canary Islands archipelago off northwestern Africa.

Airline Binter said it had cancelled all its flights to La Palma on Sunday because of ash from the volcano.

“Due to the current situation of the ash cloud, operations with La Palma will continue to be paralyzed throughout today. We continue to evaluate the situation,” the airline tweeted.

Almost half – 22 out of 38 – of all flights to the island on Sunday have been cancelled, state airport operator Aena said, but the airport there remains open.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing by Pravin Char)

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