What we know about the Canadians killed in Ethiopian Airlines plane crash

By Morgan Lowrie, Rob Drinkwater, THE CANADIAN PRESS and News Staff

Eighteen Canadians died in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on Sunday that crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 aboard.

Several of the Canadians on board — and their relatives — have now been identified, many of whom were on their way to attend a United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi.

Kate White, president of The United Nations Association in Canada, said four of the victims were part of the organization.

“This is a profound loss,” she said in a statement.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres recognized the impact of the crash on the international aid community, noting 21 UN employees from around the world were among the victims.

“A global tragedy has hit close to home and the United Nations is united in grief,” he said Monday. “(The victims) all had one thing in common — a spirit to serve the people of the world and to make it a better place for us all.”

Ameen Ismail Noormohamed

The Ismaili Centre Toronto confirmed that Ameen Ismail Noormohamed of Toronto was on board the flight that crashed on Sunday.

“We offer our deepest sympathies and prayers to all of the families who have lost loved ones in the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy,” they said in a statement.

Dawn Tanner

Hamilton-area high school teacher and aspiring principal Dawn Tanner is among the Canadians killed.

Tanner was the department head for special education at Hagersville Secondary School, where she had taught since 2005, and was taking a Principal Qualifications course, the Grand Erie District School Board said in a statement Tuesday.


She also volunteered as a homework support person at the Six Nations Polytechnic Homework Support Centre and previously taught at JC Hill Elementary School on Six Nations of the Grand River.

“My mother was an extraordinary woman who had a positive impact on numerous individuals but none more than my brother and I,” said Cody French, who identified himself as Tanner’s son, in a Facebook post. “She was the strongest person I have ever known and I adored everything about her.”

“(We’re) so proud of you for helping out the vulnerable and for pursuing your dreams,” said French.

Rubi Pauls

One of the youngest victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash is nine-month-old Canadian Rubi Pauls, who was on the way to Kenya from Ontario to meet her grandfather for the first time for Easter.

The grandfather, Quindos Karanja, says Rubi’s 60-year-old grandmother, Ann Wangui Karanja, was also on the flight.

So was Rubi’s 34-year-old mother, Carolyne Karanja, her seven-year-old brother Ryan, and her sister Kerri, who was four.

Rubi was the only Canadian citizen in the family. Karanja says the family was on its way back to Kenya after a visit to Ontario.

Carolyne Karanja, a Kenyan, had applied to be a permanent resident in Canada. Ann Karanja travelled to Canada for a visit in August and was supposed to be there for three months but had extended her stay.

Quindos Karanja, a 60-year-old retired school teacher, was trying to come to terms with the shock of losing his family.

“We don’t know what next,” he said in a telephone interview from Kenya.

He remembered the last text exchange with his daughter Carolyne Karanja.

He recalled her saying she was excited to go back home, but had a bad feeling and was fearful.

“And she didn’t know why she had that bad feeling … that was my final talk with her,” said Karanja, adding that Carolyne Karanja was the breadwinner of the family.

The grandfather said he knows he has to be strong and accept reality, but he doesn’t know how to do that.

“It’s just hard to accept that this has happened. I feel so much loss. And pain. I’m lonely.”

Anushka and Ashka Dixit, Prerit Dixit and Kosha Vaidya

Sisters Ashka Dixit, 14 and Anushka Dixit, 13 were on board the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight with their parents Prerit Dixit, 43, and Kosha Vaidya, 37 and grandparents Pannagesh Vaidya, 73 and Hansini Vaidya, 63.

Two sisters, Anushka and Ashka Dixit, along with their parents and grandparents, were on board the plane.

The girls attended schools in Brampton and the Peel District School Board said all six family members perished in the crash.

The girls’ uncle, Manant Vaidya, told CityNews the family was on their way to Kenya for March break.

Manant said his parents were from Gujarat, India, and were Canadian permanent residents. Years earlier, they lived in Kenya for several years and Kosha was born there. The family later returned to India, and Kosha moved to Ontario in 2004 after marrying her husband, who already lived in Canada, he said.

Their family vacation to Kenya was supposed to be her first visit to her birthplace in decades, and the teenage girls were excited to go on safari, said Manant. They were to return on March 20.

Manant said a friend of his father who lives in Nairobi phoned to tell of him of his family’s deaths.

In an emotional interview, Vaidya says he lost his parents who lived with him, his only sister, his brother-in-law and both nieces in the crash and has no other family left in Canada.

“Even today we are not able to believe it. I’m just thinking that my mom or dad will come from their room and talk to me,” he said.

The Peel District School Board released a statement expressing their shock and sadness on behalf of the staff and students at Centennial Senior Public School and Chinguacousy Secondary School, where the girls were students.

Kosha Vaidya was an HR advisor at the Canadian Hearing Society since 2017. In a statement, the organization said they had learned of her and her family’s death on Monday morning and were shocked and saddened by the news.

“Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Kosha’s and Prerit’s family during this tragic time. She was a remarkable person and a valued member of our team, who had a brilliant future ahead of her. We express our most sincere and deepest condolences to her entire family.” said Julia Dumanian, President and CEO, Canadian Hearing Society. “She will be greatly missed and remembered for her intelligence, professionalism and dynamic personality.”

Prerit Dixit worked with Public Health Ontario.

“Today’s news reports that our colleague Prerit Dixit may have been on board the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed this past weekend came as a shock to all of us at Public Health Ontario,” the organization said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the extended Dixit family as well as Prerit’s friends and colleagues during this very difficult time.”

Pannagesh and Hansini Vaidya were retired.

Danielle Moore

Danielle Moore, 24, who is from Toronto, but was living in Winnipeg, was among the victims of the crash. In a Facebook post on Saturday morning, Moore wrote that she was excited to be attending the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi

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

Her high school, Francis Libermann CHS in Toronto, said she was valedictorian for the class of 2012.

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.

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.

deMarsh was chairman of the International Family Forestry Alliance, an international group based in Luxembourg that represents more than 25 million forest owners worldwide.

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

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 six minutes after it took off from the Addis Ababa airport on the way to Nairobi, Kenya.

“(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.

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 him as a “global thinker,” and a “towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship.”

Bacon said Adesanmi made 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.

“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.

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.”

Jessica Hyba

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says one of its Canadian-born employees, Jessica Hyba, was among the victims of the deadly crash.


Her Facebook page says she was born in Ottawa and pursued a career in international aid work.

Hyba was working as the UNHCR’s senior external relations officer, based in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Prior to that, the UNHCR said Hyba worked for Care Canada.

That agency issued a statement saying she had worked in Indonesia as part of the emergency response to the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

“We remember her fondly as a dedicated humanitarian and loving mother,” CARE Canada said on their website.

“This tragedy has struck the humanitarian community hard and our thoughts are with all of those who have lost friends and colleagues,” the group said in a statement. “We are reminded of the sacrifices humanitarian workers and their families have made through this work in an effort to save lives and help people overcome poverty.”

Micah Messent

Micah Messent, an environmentalist from British Columbia, was identified in media reports as one of the victims in Sunday’s deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane.

Friends of Micah Messent posted their remembrances of him on Facebook and his death was reported by media outlets based on information from the B.C. government and members of his family.

In a social media post, Messent said he had been selected by the United Nations Association of Canada to attend the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi.

In the post, Messent said he was flying to Kenya on Sunday where he would “have the chance to meet with other passionate youth and leaders from around the world and explore how we can tackle the biggest challenges that are facing our generation.”

The First Nations Leadership Council said Messent was a member of the Red River Metis Nation in Manitoba and was raised as the youngest of five siblings in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. He was a “well-liked” member of a 12-month Aboriginal Youth Internship Program who served his placement with BC Parks, it said in a statement.

The placement led to a full-time position in government with the BC Parks Indigenous relations team, which focuses on enhancing reconciliation within the agency and the broader natural resource sector, the statement said.

Messent, an avid sailor, had plans to return to school in the future to pursue a law degree, it added.

Angela Rehhorn

The Canadian Wildlife Federation says Angela Rehhorn, 24, was on her way to participate in the United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi when the plane went down.

The federation says Rehhorn, 24, a recent graduate of Dalhousie University from Orillia, Ont., participated in its Canadian Conservation Corps, a volunteer program for Canadians ages 18 to 30.

Stephanie Lacroix

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.

Darcy Belanger

A conservation not-for-profit group has confirmed on its website that Darcy Belanger was on board the Kenya-bound Boeing 737 Max 8.

The statement from Parvati.org says Belanger was its founding member and director of strategic initiatives and was also was travelling to the UN environment assembly when the plane crashed.

“Admired for his courage, outstanding achievements, and noble qualities, Darcy was a hero in every sense of the word,” the statement read. “Darcy was truly a champion and a force of nature, one whose passing leaves an unimaginable gap in [Parvati.org’s] work as well as in the lives of his family, friends and colleagues.”

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

PCL Construction said Belanger was on a personal trip to the assembly as an advocate for the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary through his work with Parvati.

The conservation group says he was working to make the Arctic Ocean north of the Arctic Circle a protected area to maintain global weather patterns.

“At one point in our decade-long friendship, Darcy told me he was willing to give his life for MAPS. And so, he literally did,” says Parvati.org founder Parvati. “He embodied the heart of a true peaceful warrior. May we each be inspired by his example of selfless leadership, compassion in action, and willingness to serve the greater good.”


It was not clear what caused the Ethiopian Airlines plane to go down in clear weather six minutes after departing Bole Airport in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on its way to Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya. The accident was strikingly similar to last year’s crash of a Lion Air jet that plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189 people. Both crashes involved the Boeing 737 Max 8, and both happened minutes after the jets became airborne.

The Ethiopian pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return to the airport in Addis Ababa, the airline’s CEO said.

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.”

Trudeau reached out to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to express condolences.

At least 35 nationalities were among the dead, including 32 Kenyans, and people from China, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Israel, India and Somalia.

Families around the world grieved. At the Addis Ababa airport, a woman called a mobile number in vain. “Where are you, my son?” she said, in tears. Others cried as they approached the terminal.

At the crash site, the impact caused the plane to shatter into small pieces. Personal belongings and aircraft parts were strewn across the freshly churned earth. Bulldozers dug into the crater to pull out buried pieces of the jet.

Red Cross teams and others searched for human remains. In one photo, teams could be seen loading black plastic bags into trucks.

As sunset approached, crews were still searching for the plane’s flight-data recorder, the airline’s chief operating officer said.

Other worried families gathered in Nairobi. Agnes Muilu came to pick up his brother: “I just pray that he is safe or he was not on it.”

Relatives were frustrated by the lack of word on loved ones.

“Why are they taking us round and round. It is all over the news that the plane crashed,” said Edwin Ong’undi, who was waiting for his sister. “All we are asking for is information to know about their fate.”

Ethiopian Airlines said it has contacted the families of the victims and will soon conduct forensic investigations to identify the 149 passengers and eight crew.

With files from Shawn Jeffords in Brampton, Victoria Ahearn in Toronto, Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal, Michael MacDonald and Aly Thomson in Halifax and The Associated Press.


Related stories:

Carleton professor, Edmonton mother and child among Canadians killed in Ethiopia plane crash

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today