The government of Canada has announced a new set of scholarships, while Ontario will continue a scholarship program established in honour of the victims of the Ukrainian International Airlines plane crash two years after the disaster.
In January 2020, a plane disaster in Iran killed all 176 passengers and personnel on board, including 57 Canadians. The federal government has announced that it will formally launch a scholarship program that will provide 176 scholarships worth an average of $25,000 to each recipient. Its goal is to create interpersonal relationships through international academic interactions, and it is open to both overseas and Canadian resident students.
“We will continue to stand by the families of victims, and through the scholarship program and commemoration tribute, we will continue to remember and honour their legacies,” said Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly.
According to the government, it has also developed a new permanent residence pathway for certain victims’ families both inside and outside of Canada. Ontario established a scholarship fund in 2021 to memorialize the victims, with $10,000 put aside for each of the 57 Canadians.
“Nearly two years have passed since this terrible tragedy, but I can still remember how incredibly shocked and saddened I was when I first received the news about Flight 752 – and I’m sure the families and loved ones of the victims still feel that devastating moment deeply,” said Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford.
“I would like to extend my sincere condolences to those impacted by this tragedy and hope they find some small comfort in this continued scholarship funding that will honour the memories of those 57 Canadians we lost.”
The same colleges and universities that provided scholarships in 2021 will do so again in 2022. The bursaries are distributed to the 34 victims’ universities, with the remaining distributed to other eligible universities through a competitive process. Several victims were students and teachers at the province’s post-secondary institutions, with 15 institutions losing students or faculty.
Among the victims from Iran was Dalhousie University master’s student Masoumeh ‘Masi’ Ghavi, who “tackled everything with unrelenting zeal and intense attention,” according to her tutor William Robertson, director of Dalhousie’s Internetworking program.
A first-year student from the University of Victoria, Roja Omidbakhsh, was likewise described as a very pleasant part of the campus community with a “strong interest in marketing.” Iran admitted to shooting down the jet by accident moments after it took off from Tehran for Kyiv on January 8, 2020.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we continue to mourn the loss of so many excellent students, teachers, and other casualties, and I hope that this scholarship fund pays tribute in some small way,” said Goldie Ghamari, legislative assistant to Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities.
The federal scholarships will be open to both Canadian and international students, with the first call for applications expected in the fall/winter of 2023/24. The national government has also stated that it will talk with families who lost loved ones in the 2019 Flight ET302 catastrophe in Ethiopia about launching a similar scholarship program in their honour.