When a part of the community hurts, the whole community is impacted. The North Shore has been mourning the loss of so many promising lives who perished on the Ukraine International flight 752 on Wednesday January 8, 2020. 63 Canadians were reported to be among the 176 who lost their lives. Several academics, students and professionals were among them. Young families, couples, teenagers and children, all had their lives cut short.
Many residents brought flowers and lit candles and paid their respects at a vigil outside of Amir Bakery on Central Lonsdale. A large banner with a message of condolences was visible from at least a block away. Amir Pasavand, the owner of Amir Bakery, lost his wife Ayeshe Pourghaderi and daughter Fatemeh Pasavand. Fatemeh was a Carson Graham student.
It was hard to walk by the vigil in the hours and days following the crash and not notice someone weeping, lighting a candle, placing a flower or whispering a prayer. The winter air was thick and the neighbourhood was hurting from the shock and disbelief.
One couple who was passing through and going about their daily routines on Lonsdale noticed the vigil, stopped for a moment and asked what had happened. They left quietly only to return with a bouquet of flowers which they placed in front of the Bakery. On everyone’s mind was the victims and the family members they left behind. No words can describe what those families whose loved ones will never come home are going through.
Paul Puleston-Clarke, a long-time resident of North Vancouver, reflects: “It pains me to witness this terrible news. A number of my friends are affected by this sad event. Consequently I am affected. Part of my life routine has changed. My heart goes to the families and friends of those stolen from us. May time and quiet reflection bring peace and understanding to soothe open wounds.”
The shrine-like vigil on Lonsdale seems to have encapsulated our neighbourhood’s caring community spirit. An inspiring tweet by Mark Teasdale (@MarkGonePublic) on January 9th included Squamish Nation’s Darren Yelton paying his respects at the vigil on Lonsdale with a heartfelt message: “My heart weeps with you all. I am very saddened. I trusted my heart. I had to come out tonight and say my prayers for this wonderful family. I did too shop here. I bought some from this wonderful family. It breaks my heart… god bless you all. We all need to live together and live like family, We are brothers and sisters, and take care of one another…“
Everyone seems to have been impacted on the North Shore. As poet Saadi Shirazi wrote:
Human beings are members of a whole; In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain; Other members uneasy will remain.
Let’s be kind towards each other and remember those whose dreams will not be realized. May the victims’ soul rest in peace.
Shervin Shahriari is the author of ‘North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Neighbourhood’ (Arcadia, 2009) and a Langara Business Faculty Lecturer.