Friends and families share memories and grief about 18 Canadians who died in Ethiopian plane crash

by - 4 min read

Friends and families share memories and grief about 18 Canadians who died in Ethiopian plane crash

by - 4 min read


A Carleton University professor, a mother and daughter from Edmonton, a family from Brampton, Ont., and young environmentalists on their way to a United Nations conference are among the 18 Canadians killed in Sunday’s plane crash in Ethiopia.

A jetliner carrying 157 people crashed shortly after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, killing everyone aboard, authorities said. The dead included people from at least 35 nationalities.

Pius Adesanmi, Nigeria-born director of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies and a professor at the Ottawa school, was among passengers on the Boeing 737 Max 8 when it crashed shortly after takeoff near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometres southeast of the capital, Carleton University said Global Affairs Canada confirmed.

“Pius was a towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship and his sudden loss is a tragedy,” said Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Carleton’s president and vice-chancellor. Adesanmi was the winner of the inaugural Penguin Prize for African non-fiction writing in 2010.

Edmonton resident Amina Ibrahim Odowa, 33, and her daughter Sofia Abdulkadir, 5, were also killed, a family member confirmed to CBC News.

Odowa leaves behind two daughters, ages seven and three. 

Edmonton woman Amina Ibrahim Odowa, 33, and her daughter Sofia Abdulkadir, 5, were also killed in the crash, a family member confirmed to CBC News. (Submitted by Mohamed Ali)

The Peel District School Board says it was told by police that two of its students, Anushka and Ashka Dixit, were among the 157 who died, along with their parents and grandparents. The board did not identify the other family members. 

Derick Lwugi, an accountant from Calgary, also died, a friend of his family told CBC News. 

Lwugi, 53, who volunteered as an assistant pastor, sat on the board of the non-profit Abeingo Association Canada and founded the Kenyan Community in Calgary group.

Danielle Moore, 24, who grew up in Toronto and worked in Winnipeg at the charity Canada Learning Code, was also killed. She was described by family and friends as an activist who raised her voice for Indigenous rights, climate change, food security and the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition.

Danielle Moore poses during a recent trip to Iqaluit, Nunavut, where she helped at the non-profit Pinnguaq Association, teaching robotics and coding to children. (Submitted by Ryan Oliver)

Moore was also among a group headed to a United Nations environmental conference.  

Friends of another young environmentalist, Micah Messent from Vancouver Island, were mourning his death. CBC News spoke to his family, who acknowledged the reports, but said they did not want to comment. 

Messent was heading to the same UN conference, which he posted about on his Instagram the day before the crash.

Peter DeMarsh of Taymouth, N.B., was also killed.

“Our circle was broken today with the sudden tragic loss of my beloved brother Peter on the Ethiopian Airlines crash this morning,” his sister, Helen DeMarsh, wrote on Facebook. “He was profoundly dear to me, I looked up to him and I will miss him every day for the rest of my life. Just days ago he met me at the airport with the biggest hug and warmest welcome.

“Praying for him as we remember his brilliance, devotion to humanity and the well-being of the planet. Staying with my mom who has just lost her eldest child and mainstay. Grateful for your prayers for our family, especially his wife Jean and son Luke.”

DeMarsh was chair of the International Family Forestry Alliance and of the Canadian Federation of Woodlot Owners. The Kenya Forest Service said in a Facebook post that DeMarsh was en route to Nairobi to attend a workshop on “access to international climate finance for small holder farmers.”

The leader of the province’s Green Party called him “an old friend.”

The UN High Commission for Refugees said a Canadian-born employee was one of two of its staff lost in the crash.  

A spokesperson for the UNHCR said Jessica Hyba, joined the organization in Iraq in 2013 and had also worked at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva. She had recently been appointed senior external relations officer based in Mogadishu and was “eager to get back to the field and working with refugees again,” Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams said. “Prior to UNHCR, Jessica had a long and distinguished service with Care Canada, Care International and UNICEF.”

Hyba, 43, leaves behind two daughters, aged nine and 12.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent condolences via Twitter to the families. The government also provided a phone number for Canadians in Ethiopia to call for consular assistance.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Twitter: “Terrible news from #Addis Ababa, #Ethiopia, this morning. My heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost loved ones. The Canadian government is in close contact with Ethiopian authorities to gather additional information as quickly as possible.”

The other Canadians who died in the crash have yet to be identified. 

This story originally appeared on CBC