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Canada Brampton family, including two kids, among 18 Canadians killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash

Canadian victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash included (from left) Amina Ibrahim Odowa and her five-year-old daughter Sofia, Pius Adesanmi, Peter de Marsh and Derick Lwugi.

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A family of six from Brampton, Ont., including two teenaged daughters, were among the 18 Canadians killed Sunday when an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed near Addis Ababa.

Other Canadian victims included a veteran United Nations staffer, four people heading to an environmental conference, a professor from Ottawa, and a mother and five-year-old daughter from Edmonton.

The craft plunged shortly after taking off from the Ethiopian capital for Nairobi, claiming the lives of all 157 passengers and crew members on board.

The death toll spanned the world. The crash claimed a cross-section of victims from 35 countries, many of them workers for United Nations agencies and global humanitarian organizations. Canadians formed the largest group of victims, after Kenyans.

A Brampton school community is reeling after two girls were counted among 18 Canadian fatalities, Peel District School Board confirmed.

Anushka Dixit and Ashka Dixit, and their parents Prerit Dixit, 43, and Kosha Vaidya, 37, died in the crash. Ms. Vaidya’s parents, Pannagesh and Hansini Vaidya, also died.

“This tragedy has brought great sadness to the students and staff at Centennial Sr. Public School and Chinguacousy Secondary School,” read a statement issued by Peel board. An email was sent out to parents Monday afternoon.

A family of six from Brampton, Ontario were killed in the crash. Father is Prerit Dixit, 43 and Mother is Kosha Vaidya, 37 with their two daughters Anushka and Ashka Dixit.

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Read more: What we know so far about the tragic accident and the 157 victims

Another passenger was Jessica Hyba, 43, who had just started a posting last month in Somalia as a senior external relations officer for the UN High Commission for Refugees. A mother of two daughters, aged 9 and 12, Ms. Hyba had just spent seven years in the Middle East for the UNHCR and the NGO Care, making forays into refugee camps in Iraq.

“She worked some of the worst duty stations on the planet,” said a friend, Kyle Matthews, the executive director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University.

Also aboard were four young delegates to the UN Environment Assembly gathering in Nairobi. The coordinator was Stéphanie Lacroix, a 25-year-old project coordinator with United Nations Association in Canada.

A Franco-Ontarian from Timmins, Ont., Ms. Lacroix wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a school teacher but an internship with the NGO Stepping Stones International changed her outlook. She had worked in Malawi for World University Service of Canada.

“I remember being struck at how young she was, yet so impressive and mature,” said Lauren Webber, a humanitarian worker who met her in Malawi.

The other delegates were Danielle Moore, Micah Messent and Angela Rehhorn.

Ms. Rehhorn, 24, who had a degree in marine biology from Dalhousie University, was a member of the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC) at the Canadian Wildlife Federation, a program training future conservationists. “Angela was full of excitement and optimism of youth, just waiting to change the world. She was an inspiration,” said the federation’s chief executive, Rick Bates.

Mr. Messent, a member of the Red River Métis Nation in Manitoba, grew up in British Columbia’s Comox Valley. He worked for BC Parks and planned to go to law school.

Ms. Moore, 24, grew up in the Toronto area but graduated from Dalhousie University with a degree in marine biology and biological oceanography. She was most recently living in Winnipeg, teaching coding to students and working as a trail surveyor for the Winnipeg Trails Association.

She posted on Facebook Saturday that she was “so excited” and “beyond privileged” to announce she had been selected to attend the conference in Nairobi. “I feel beyond privileged to be receiving this opportunity, and want to share as much with folks back home.”

Another Canadian victim was Carleton University professor Pius Adesanmi, director of the university’s Institute of African Studies.

Professor Pius Adesanmi taught in Carleton’s English department and was the director of the university’s Institute of African Studies.

Youtube/Institute of African Studies Carleton University

“Pius was a towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship and his sudden loss is a tragedy,” said Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Carleton University president and vice-chancellor.

Prof. Adesanmi taught in Carleton’s English department. Pauline Rankin, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, said his contributions to Carleton were “immeasurable.”

“He worked tirelessly to build the Institute of African Studies, to share his boundless passion for African literature and to connect with and support students. He was a scholar and teacher of the highest calibre who leaves a deep imprint on Carleton,” Prof. Rankin said.

Prof. Adesanmi was also a well-known author and columnist in Nigeria, where he was born. His colleague Blair Rutherford, a professor in Carleton’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, said Prof. Adesanmi “was a leading public intellectual concerning everything Africa.”

"From what was happening in Abuja or Pretoria to the varied countrysides, from the vibrant social-media worlds trying to hold those in power to account to the dynamic and diverse African diaspora communities, [he was] an incisive thinker who was incredibly gregarious and always quick with a quip or three,” Prof. Rutherford said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.

Prof. Adesanmi posted a selfie on his Facebook page Saturday, holding his Canadian passport and a boarding pass in what appeared to be an airport. The post was accompanied by a Bible verse: “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me – Psalm 139:9-10​​.” The Globe could not confirm if the photo was posted before he boarded the Ethiopian Airlines flight.

The crash also took the lives of two Edmonton residents, one of them a woman described as the glue of her extended family.

Amina Ibrahim Odowa and her five-year-old daughter, Sofia, were killed in the crash, said Ms. Odowa’s brother, Mohamed Ali, who lives in Toronto.

Amina Ibrahim Odowa and her five-year-old daughter Sofia were killed in the crash.

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Mr. Ali said he and his sister and their family had immigrated to Canada from Somalia via Kenya in 2006. Here, Ms. Odowa, 33, had three daughters, ages 3, 5 and 7. Only the middle child, Sofia – who would have turned 6 this summer – had been on the flight with her.

Mr. Ali learned of the plane crash early Sunday morning, when his brother texted him asking for their sister’s flight number. When he looked it up, he discovered that she was on the plane.

“She was very friendly. She was all about family and friends and helping people out,” he said of his sister. Their family is spread out and he said Ms. Odowa was always the one to hold everybody together. “She always put other people’s needs before her … she was always calling this person, making connections. She was that person.”

Another victim was Derick Lwugi, a senior financial accountant with the City of Calgary, and the past president of the Calgary-Kenya association. He and his wife, Gladys Kivia, have three children.

Mr. Lwugi had immigrated to Calgary from Kenya 15 years ago. After he went to school and obtained a job, his family followed three years later. Mr. Lwugi was a proud Calgarian and loved sporting his cowboy hat to the annual stampede.

“He loved people,” Mrs. Kivia said. “If people had any needs or problems, he was there to, you know, organize people around that family or whatever they needed.”

He was travelling back to Nairobi to visit his parents and his in-laws. His mother had not been feeling well.

At his family’s home in Calgary on Sunday, a choir could be heard singing in the background. Mrs. Kivia said it was community members who’d come by to show their support.

Also killed was Peter DeMarsh from Taymouth, N.B., president of the International Family Forestry Alliance. On Twitter, Dominic Walubengo, director of Kenya’s Forest Action Network, called Mr. DeMarsh a “dear friend.”

“He was due to attend a conference on family owned forests and climate change at Nairobi. I was to meet him on Monday evening for dinner,” Mr. Walubengo tweeted.

Crash victims from other countries came from business, politics, sports and diplomacy. Several were affiliated with international agencies.

The World Food Programme confirmed that two of the Italian victims worked for the Rome-based UN agency. A WFP spokeswoman identified the victims as Virginia Chimenti and Maria Pilar Buzzetti.

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said “it is with great sadness and shock” that refugee agency colleagues were among the victims of the crash.

Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry said a former ambassador, Abiodun Oluremi Bashua, is among the victims.

And a Slovak lawmaker said his wife, daughter and son were killed in the crash. Anton Hrnko with the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party said he is announcing “in deep grief” that his wife Blanka, son Martin and daughter Michala were among the crash victims.

The dead also include Paolo Dieci, a founder of an Italian aid group that partners with Unicef in northern Africa. The International Committee for the Development of Peoples said “the world of international co-operation has lost one of its most brilliant advocates and Italian civil society has lost a precious point of reference.” Three members of another Italian humanitarian organization, Africa Tremila, were also reported among the victims.

Hussein Swaleh, the former secretary-general of the Football Kenya Federation, was also named as being among the dead by Sofapaka Football Club. He was due to return home on the flight after working as the match commissioner in an African Champions League game in Egypt on Friday. Kenyan soccer federation president Nick Mwendwa said Mr. Swaleh was one of the 32 Kenyan nationals on the flight. Mr. Mwendwa wrote on Twitter: “Sad day for football.”

With reports from Geoffrey York and AP and The Canadian Press

Read more: Boeing 737 Max 8 under intense scrutiny after two crashes in five months

Explainer: What we know so far about the tragic accident and the 157 victims

Editor’s note: (March 11, 2019) An earlier version said Stéphanie Lacroix was 27. In fact, she was 25.

(March 13, 2019) An earlier version of this article used incorrect names for two Canadian victims. Amina Ibrahim Odowa was incorrectly identified with the surnames Odowaa and Odawa. Her daughter Sofia was incorrectly identified as Safiya.
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