Queen’s launches memorial fund for Iran plane crash victims

Fund will honour those lost, including Queen’s student Amir Moradi

The University launched a memorial fund on Thursday to honour Iranian plane crash victims.
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A week after third-year biotechnology student Amir Moradi was killed on board Ukraine flight PS752, the University announced that it is setting up a memorial fund for Iranian students in financial need.

Queen’s announced Thursday that it would join other universities across Canada to launch funds in memory of the victims of the Jan. 8 Tehran crash that killed 176 Canadians.

“We’re doing this as a community because it’s important to send a very clear message that, number one, Amir and the other individuals that were on that plane will not be forgotten, and that, number two, members of the community in Iran who wish to attend Queen’s in the future will be welcomed and supported,” Karen Bertrand, vice-principal of Advancement, said in an interview with The Journal.

Moradi was an undergraduate student in the faculty of Arts and Science who planned to attend medical school. He was returning to Canada from spending the winter holidays in Iran when two missiles collided with Ukrainian Flight PS752 less than 10 minutes after take-off.

Bertrand said the number of Canadian universities launching memorial funds is “still evolving.”

“We are absolutely aware of a number of universities across the country that will be doing something similar,” she said.

The University of Toronto, which lost six students to the crash, launched a similar scholarship on Wednesday, promising to match three dollars to every dollar raised up to $250,000, and match every dollar-for-dollar for funds raised beyond that.

Queen’s has committed to matching dollar-for-dollar funds raised up to $250,000.

“That was the decision that was best for Queen’s,” Bertrand said.

She added that she believes the memorial fund will continue in future years.

“That’s going to be dependent on how many funds are raised. Similarly, how big the scholarship will be or if we’re able to support multiple students will all be dependent on how many funds are raised.”

Bertrand said Queen’s will be updating the community as funds are raised.

“Typically, there’s considerable interest at the beginning,” she said. “I would expect an update fairly quick after today. Candidly, it will depend on the flow of the fundraising.”

According to Bertrand, the University is pushing out news of the memorial fund across social media and engaging with campus groups like the Iranian Students Association to raise donor awareness.

“We’re pushing it out to our entire alumni community,” she said. “It will be profiled in the Queen’s Alumni Review in the next edition that comes out. It will be dispersed to our entire alumni and stakeholder audience.”

Bertrand acknowledged that the Iranian Student Memorial Scholarship Fund will not replace Amir.

“It will not replace the lives lost and it will not replace the promise that was lost in that tragedy,” she said. “But what is really important that we’re trying to achieve through this fund is to send the message that the lives lost will not be forgotten, and that there’s an opportunity to support people from that community in the future.” 

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