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Ontario family of six, Courtenay man among those killed in Ethiopian Airlines plane crash

Last Updated Mar 11, 2019 at 8:05 pm PST


'Devastated': B.C. man killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash remembered as 'brightest light'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A school board west of Toronto says a family of six died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.

A letter to members of the Centennial Sr. Public School says Anushka Dixit, her sister, her parents and grandparents were among the 18 Canadians killed. The plane went down moments after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s airport, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board.

Vancouver Island man among victims

Micah Messent, from Courtenay, is being remembered as a “profound human” and passionate environmentalist who was described as a bright and rising star in B.C.’s environment circles.

Kelly Muir first met Messent when he was a student living in the residences at Vancouver Island University. “He was a student who very quickly came to our attention, just as somebody who was a really great connector.”

Muir recalls Messent’s quickly became a student leader, and remembers him as a community leader for the university.

Among the qualities she remembers him for is how he valued others, adding to their positive experiences throughout student education.

“He really focused on who the people were that he was surrounded by and making sure that the experience that they had in post secondary, especially in the community at VIU, were feeling grounded and connected and cared for,” she adds.

Messent was among the 157 passengers killed after the jet went down outside Addis Ababa on Sunday shortly after take off. Of those people, 18 have been confirmed to be Canadian.

Others who knew Messent say his death is a blow to the entire province.

The B.C. Parks worker was on his way to the United Nations Assembly of the Environment in Nairobi as a chosen delegate.

He worked as an Indigenous Relations Analyst for B.C. Parks for the past seven months, after graduating from VIU with a Bachelor’s degree in Indigenous studies in 2017.

Muir agrees with others who saw Messent as a strong voice for the Indigenous community.

“He definitely helped, I think, a lot of individuals who were unfamiliar because we had people from all over the world living in the community, of course,” Muir tells NEWS 1130. “I think his openness to talk about his heritage and his background, as well as the beauty of Indigenous ways of being and knowing was really truly felt.”

Messent has appeared on a diversity panel encouraging Indigenous youth to get involved in outdoor sports, worked with Ocean Wise, and made a memorable mark in his most recent role with the provincial body.

Muir says it was because of his kindness and the pride he felt about his culture and heritage that many were able to understand and “get swept into” Indigenous culture.

“He was truly, honestly one of the brightest lights, and I’m just devastated that he’s gone so soon,” Muir says, adding she hopes his legacy and commitment to inclusion will live on through those who knew him.

Messent was raised in the Comox Valley, and was the youngest of five siblings.

More Canadians identified as country mourns victims

A conservationist from Atlantic Canada, a recent graduate from the University of Ottawa have been confirmed as two of the 18 Canadians who died on Sunday.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation says Angela Rehhorn was on her way to participate in the United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi when the plane went down. The federation says Rehhorn, a recent graduate of Dalhousie University in Halifax, participated in its Canadian Conservation Corps, a volunteer program for Canadians ages 18 to 30.

Stephanie Lacroix’s mother, Sylvie Lamarche Lacroix, confirmed from her home in Timmins, Ont. that her daughter died in the crash. Stephanie Lacroix’s LinkedIn profile says she was working with the United Nations Association in Canada.

Her profile says she graduated in 2015 with an honours degree in International Development and Globalization from the University of Ottawa.

A conservation not-for-profit group has confirmed a man who used to live in Edmonton is also among those who were killed when the plane went down.

A statement on Parvati.org says Darcy Belanger was its founding member and director of strategic initiatives.

Belanger’s LinkedIn profile says he was working as a United States director of professional development with PCL Construction in Denver.

Parvati.org says Belanger had taken time off from his day job with PCL and was travelling to Nairobi for the United Nations Environment Assembly.

A statement from Parvati.org says Darcy Belanger was on board an Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed on Mar. 10, 2019. (Source: parvati.org)

A mother and daughter from Edmonton, a renowned Carleton University professor, an accountant with the City of Calgary and a Toronto woman working with the United Nations Association in Canada, are also among the Canadians who were killed in the crash.

Peter deMarsh

Forestry groups have identified Peter deMarsh of New Brunswick as one of the 18 Canadians who died Sunday when an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 aboard.

Peter deMarsh, chair of the International Family Forestry Alliance, was among the 18 Canadians killed in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on March 10, 2019. (Photo credit: familyforestry.net)

The Kenya Forest Service and the Family Forest Nepal Facebook pages both wrote posts offering condolences to the family of Peter DeMarsh of International Family Forestry Alliance.

The International Family Forestry Alliance did not immediately return a request for comment early Monday.

The Kenya Forest Service post said DeMarsh was en route to Nairobi to attend a workshop on “access to international climate finance for small holder farmers.”

Amina Ibrahim Odowaa and Sofia Faisal Abdulkadir

Meantime, Mohamed Hassan Ali said his sister, Amina Ibrahim Odowaa, 33, and her five-year-old daughter, Sofia Faisal Abdulkadir, were on board the jet that went down on Sunday.

“(She was) a very nice person, very outgoing, very friendly. Had a lot of friends,” he said of his sister, who lived in Edmonton and was travelling to Kenya to visit with relatives.

Amina Odowaa and her daughter Sofia Faisal Abdulkadir are seen in undated family handout photos. Odowaa and her daughter Sofia were aboard the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 on board, authorities said, including 16 other Canadians. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

Hassan Ali says he saw his sister on Saturday in Toronto while she was on her way to Nairobi.

“I couldn’t believe that she was here yesterday and gone so fast,” he told CityNews. “The whole day was like a dream to me rather than reality.”

Odowaa is survived by two daughters aged seven and three.

Pius Adesanmi

Carleton University confirmed Pius Adesanmi, a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University, was also killed in the crash.

Benoit-Antoine Bacon, the school’s president and vice-chancellor, described Adesanmi as a “global thinker,” and a “towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship.”

Bacon said Adesanmi left an enormous impact on the university community since joining it in 2006, both as an academic and a person.

“What’s striking about him was that he welcomes you with his whole being,” he said in a phone interview.


Pius Adesanmi, a professor in the English department at Carlton University, has been identified as one of the 18 Canadian victims of the Ethiopian plane crash. FACEBOOK/Pius Adesanmi

“He’s a person of integrity, of wholeness, of warmth, and you can imagine the impact of his brilliant intellect as a great scholar and of the kind of man he was, the kind of person that he was.”

Tributes also poured in from Adesanmi’s students and colleagues, both in Canada and his native Nigeria.

Mitchell Dick, a Carleton student, said Adesanmi was among his most “memorable” professors.

“He was extremely nice and approachable and his way of teaching was very vivid and accessible for everybody whether you were an English major or not,” he said from the Canadian university men’s basketball championship in Halifax, where a moment of silence was held Sunday for the victims.

Derick Lwugi

Gladys Kivia, a domestic violence counsellor with the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, said her husband, Derick Lwugi, was also among the victims.

The accountant who worked for the city leaves behind three children, aged 17, 19 and 20, Kivia said. The couple had been in Calgary for 12 years, and Lwugi had been headed to Kenya to visit both of their parents.

“His mom is not feeling well and we make a habit of going to see [our parents] after maybe two years…he was going for a month” Kivia told CityNews.

Derick Lwugi is shown in a photo from Facebook. Lwugi was among the 18 Canadians who died Sunday when an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 aboard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook

She described Lwugi as a socially conscious man who was very involved in his community in Calgary.

“Derek is a very loving dad and a dearly loving husband as well. He loved people…he just loved people. He made friends easy, very friendly man and very hard working,” she said.

“It’s devastating for the kids, for all of us…I’ve had friends coming, they make a difference. We cry together.”

Danielle Moore

Media reports indicate that Danielle Moore, 24, who is from Toronto, but was living in Winnipeg, was also among the victims. In a Facebook post on Saturday morning, Moore wrote that she was excited to be attending a UN environment event in Nairobi.

“I feel beyond privileged to be receiving this opportunity,” she wrote.

Monica Phung, a friend of Moore’s who worked with her through a conservation program called Ocean Bridge, said she last spoke to her friend Friday night.

“I messaged her to congratulate her. She just got accepted to the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Ottawa,” said Phung. “That’s what she felt like she was meant to do.”

Asked what comes to mind when she thinks of her friend, Phung said she pictures “laughing and sunshine.”

“She had a loud and happy laugh all the time. And the biggest smile,” said Phung. “And she was just a light. She would always make you feel good and you could feel her energy in the room. She was so positive and just always brought a goodness to everyone around her.”

University of New Brunswick professor Kimberly Davies said Moore was her honours thesis student when she worked at Halifax’s Dalhousie University. She said Moore graduated from Dalhousie with a degree in marine biology in 2017 and was “exceptional in every sense.”

“She excelled at her studies, she was a kind and friendly person, and she was deeply devoted to environmental and human rights causes,” said Davies in an email.

Jessica Hyba

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees says Jessica Hyba, one of its Canadian-born employees, was among the victims of the deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane.

The UNHCR says she was working as the organization’s senior external relations officer.

Flight recorders recovered from Ethiopian Airlines crash site

There is some damage, but the black box of flight data and cockpit voice recorder have now been recovered from the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines jet that went down outside Addis Ababa on Sunday shortly after taking off — killing 157 people, including 18 Canadians.

While it’s still not known what caused the crash of the new plane, the airline decided to ground its remaining four 737 Max 8s until further notice.

A growing number of countries and airlines have also done the same, grounding their fleets of the Boeing 737 Max 8s — though for now, that does not include West Jet or Air Canada.

Air Canada says in an email to the Canadian Press that its 24 Max 8 aircraft have performed “excellently” and met safety and reliability standards.

In response to concerns raised by social media users, WestJet Airlines Ltd. took to Twitter to say it’s not grounding any of its 13 Max 8s, and is “working with Boeing to ensure the continued safe operation of our Max fleet.”

The Boeing jetliner is relatively new, entering into service at both airlines in 2017 and flying routes for Air Canada that include Vancouver to Montreal and Calgary to Vancouver.

China, which operates a quarter of the global fleet, blocked all of the planes from flying within the country. Indonesia has made the same move, while Cayman Airways has also grounded its fleet.

Meantime, Red Cross workers slowly picked through the widely scattered debris near the blackened crash crater, looking for the remains of 157 lives. A shredded book, a battered passport, business cards in multiple languages are among the items found in the wreckage as heavy machinery dug for larger pieces of the plane.

Forensic experts from Israel have arrived to help with the investigation, an Ethiopian Airlines’ spokesperson says. Ethiopian authorities are leading the investigation into the crash, assisted by the U.S., Kenya and others.

“These kinds of things take time,” Kenya’s transport minister, James Macharia, told reporters.

People from 35 countries died in the crash six minutes after the plane took off from Ethiopia’s capital en route to Nairobi. Ethiopian Airlines said the senior pilot issued a distress call and was told to return but all contact was lost shortly afterward. The plane plowed into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “deeply saddened” by the crash.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family, friends, and loved ones as a result of this tragedy,” he said in a statement. ““We are providing consular assistance, and working closely with authorities to gather further information. We join the international community in mourning the loss of so many lives, including those countries who have also lost citizens in this devastating crash.”


With files from Morgan Lowrie, Rob Drinkwater from the Canadian Press, and Keith Doucette, Adam Burns, Allison Jones and The Associated Press