On January 15 at the Rankin Family Pavilion, faculty, students and staff gathered for a moment of silence to honour the victims of Flight PS752.
In a statement from Canadian and Iranian authorities, after a thorough investigation, Ukrainian Flight PS752 was found to have been struck down with an Iranian missile, with all 176 on board perishing. 56 of the lives lost were Canadian citizens and many more were headed to Canada either as permanent residents, international students or skilled workers.
Leela Madhavarau, Director of Brock Human Rights and Equity (HRE), convened the event, opening the floor for several Brock University officials to say a few words leading up to the moment of silence at 1:00 p.m. Greg Finn, Vice-President in charge of Academics acknowledged the horrific tragedy that took the lives of innocent individuals and said that nothing could replace the unlimited potential that was lost in the plane crash. He offered his condolences to all Iranians present and said Brock University will be working with HRE to offer counselling and crisis support to all the students in this time of turmoil.
Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) President, Bilal Khan and Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) President, Christopher Yendt, were both present and offered their sympathy and love on behalf of their respective organizations.
“You have no idea what it does to a mother when her child leaves her, let alone coming to a whole new country in pursuit of education. It hurts my soul to just think about how those mothers saw their sons and daughters for the last time. A regime that wrenched [apart] many families in Iran and continues to do so, I am very thankful to this community and Canada in general that has become a haven for us in this time,” said an Iranian international student pursuing her PhD at Brock University.
The hall maintained a heavy hearted moment of silence where attendees held on to their grief and sorrow and gazed onto the board with the pictures of the victims smiling back at them.
Madhavarau said that everyone copes with the sorrow and grief in their own unique way. In a non-obligatory fashion, she opened the floor for anyone in the gathering who wanted to share how they felt about the horrific incident. She left the podium saying that it was important to express how everyone feels about the reality of this tragic event that took away innocent lives and just as importantly, everyone should commemorate the lost souls and resonate with the common purpose of attaining peace and harmony across the world.
The crowd then scattered into smaller groups, consoling each other as the event reached its final stages.
“I was very young when I came to Canada and I am still the youngest Iranian in this crowd. It was very difficult for me to [acknowledge] what really happened. I don’t have the courage to share how much [sorrow] I feel. I just wanted to thank everyone who came here today to show their love,” said a student member from the Iranian Student Association at Brock.