Two University of Guelph students were among those that died in the Iranian plane crash Wednesday morning.
Ghanimat Azhdari was a PhD student in the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, and Milad Ghasemi Ariani was pursuing a PhD in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies, the U of G said in a news release.
Both students were returning from visiting Iran.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of two of our students,” said president Franco Vaccarino. “Our thoughts go out to the families of these two students and to anyone else affected by this tragedy. Any loss to our campus community touches all of us.”
The Guelph students were among 63 Canadians that died when the Ukranian International Airlines plane headed from Tehran to Kyiv, Ukraine, crashed into a field, killing all on board.
Condolences for Azhdari poured in on the web site of an international indigenous rights collective, the ICAA Consortium, that she was affiliated with, offering more insight into the work she did.
"Words cannot express our sadness at the loss of our graduate student, Ghanimat Azhdari. She was a well-liked student who brought sunshine into our department," said U of G professor Nancy Grieve.
"She’s my course mate at University of Guelph. We usually sit side by side. She’s full of energy and her contributions to discourse in class is always on point and amazing. I remember telling her to stay alive when she told me before Xmas break she’s going back home. I’m deeply heartbroken by this news!" said Philip Quarshie.
The ICAA Consortium posted thoughts on its website.
"We are in utter disbelief and heartbroken at the sudden loss of such a beautiful young life – a true force of nature, and one of the ICCA Consortium’s most cherished flowers. No words can adequately express the pain of this loss but please allow us to share the following," the ICAA wrote on its website.
ICAA said Azhdari was a geographic Information System (GIS) specialist who "worked tirelessly with many of Iran’s nomadic tribes, travelling across the country and supporting the national federation of Iranian nomadic tribes (UNINOMAD) to document their territories of life through their own worldviews and perspectives."
"She was always smiling, wherever she went, and generously shared her experience, knowledge and powerful energy. A strong activist and advocate for the global indigenous peoples’ movement, this is not only a loss for our ICCA Consortium family but also for many communities, organisations and movements worldwide," the ICCA wrote.