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‘Superbly accomplished scholars’: engineering community mourns loss of couple in Iran plane crash

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The death of University of Alberta engineering professors Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand is a great loss to science, say colleagues who are grappling with their grief. 

The Iranian-Canadian couple from Edmonton were killed when a Ukrainian passenger plane crashed minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s international airport on Wednesday. 

Their two young daughters, Daria and Dorina Mousavi, also died in the crash. 

“We miss them as colleagues,” Ivan Fair, chair of the U of A’s engineering department, said Thursday. “Several people in the department miss them as close friends. Their two daughters were friends with other people’s children, and we mourn their loss.”

“We will miss them both in the role that they had as supervisors,” he said. “We will miss them as people for what they contributed to our community.”

Mousavi and Daneshmand were electrical engineers and conducted research in wireless communications.

They were members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Antennas and Propagation Society (IEEE AP-S), its president calling them “superbly accomplished scholars.”

“This is an incredible and immense loss to us as their friends and colleagues, as well as to the IEEE community as a whole,” Mahta Moghaddam said in a written statement. 

“We will miss their enthusiasm, high energy, and exceptional technical accomplishments, but more importantly, their extraordinary kindness and compassion.”

University professors Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand, along with their daughters, from left, Daria and Dorina, are among the dead. (zaghtweet1/Twitter)

Accomplished academics

In 2016, Daneshmand was recognized for her scientific contribution in the field of microwave engineering and for being a role model for women in engineering, winning the prestigious IEEE AP-S Lot Shafai Distinguished Mid Career Award.

“She was an outstanding researcher,” said Fair. “And in that role, was able to be a mentor, to say, ‘It doesn’t matter what your gender is, if you have interests and initiative, just go for it.'”

While Daneshmand was a reserved person, Fair said, Mousavi had an outgoing personality. 

“He would make sure he said hello with a wave to every person and always, always with a smile.”

They had both received a bachelor of science from the Iran University of Science & Technology before moving to Canada to pursue their master’s degrees at the University of Manitoba. 

Mousavi received his PhD from the University of Manitoba in 2001. Daneshmand completed her PhD at the University of Waterloo in 2006.

Iranian engineers drawn to U of A

Engineering and medicine are popular career choices in Iran for high-achieving students, according to Payman Parseyan, former president of Edmonton’s Iranian Heritage Society.

He said many students take advantage of the free post-secondary education offered in some parts of Iran to further their career prospects.

“There’s also a lot more competition there for work. Higher competition means you need a higher level of education to compete in the workforce.”

The U of A’s renowned engineering department attracts Iranians who are pursuing that field, Parseyan said. 

“Combining that with a country that disproportionately produces higher numbers of engineers than you would expect, there will be a synergy at some point,” he said.

“That’s why we have so many Iranian international students who are those graduates and PhD students.”

About 500 Iranian students are currently studying at the U of A, according to its president, David Turpin.

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Northwestern B.C. Indian day school to be demolished by Gitanyow First Nation

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To Wanda Good and other members of Gitanyow, the demolition of the Kitwancool Indian Day School’s building this week represents a new chapter in their lives, healing the trauma they suffered during a racist education at the federally operated institution.

On Wednesday, Good conducted a small ceremony at the school she attended from 1972 to 1980, to call back what she believes are the spirits of students that may still linger inside the building after years of abuse.

“We believe that we are our ancestors reincarnated,” she said. “The part of the spirit of that child remains where there was a trauma.”

Located on the Gitanyow reserve, a remote Indigenous community about 260 kilometres northeast of Prince Rupert, B.C., Kitwancool is among the 700 Indian day schools operated across Canada from the 1860s to 1990s. The purpose of the schools was to assimilate Indigenous children by eradicating their native languages and cultures. These schools were publicly funded and often had religious affiliations.

Years of trauma in Kitwancool day school

Kitwancool day school was established by Prince Rupert’s Anglican Diocese of Caledonia in 1938, after a representative wrote to the federal Department of Indian Affairs that local First Nation people needed education in English. It was housed in a log cabin owned by Gitanyow chief Walter Derrick until its formal campus was built in 1949.

But the education that Good and hundreds of other Indigenous children received is more a torture than enlightenment.

“I did experience and witnessed lots of strapping, punching, pulling ears,” said Good. “We actually had music teachers that … would teach us these very racist songs that we would have to sing.”

“We were not allowed to speak our language in the classroom. The children were strapped every time someone said a Gitxsan word.”

In its letter to federal Department of Indian Affairs in 1937, Prince Rupert’s Anglican Diocese of Caledonia discussed the need to build Kitwancool Indian Day School to educate Indigenous children in English. (Library and Archives Canada)

The nightmare ended in 1986, when the school was closed and students were transferred to the Gitanyow Independent School that currently provides kindergarten to Grade 6 education to about 60 children.

The day school premises were repurposed into the Gitanyow Band’s administration office before turning into a gas station several years ago. In light of the building’s disrepair, the band council decided to demolish it and has plans to erect a new gas bar at the same location.

Good said many former students of Kitwancool day school have applied for the federal Indian Day School Settlement program, which offers compensation between $10,000 and $200,000 based on abuse suffered. 


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Students left out of a vision for a “Stronger and More Resilient Canada”

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OTTAWA, ON, Sept. 23, 2020 /CNW/ – Students are disappointed by the Federal Government’s continued lack of support, following today’s Speech from the Throne. Today’s speech promised ambitious job creation strategies, which will include scaling up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, and helping workers receive education and accreditation. The speech made no mention of investments into post-secondary education or increased support for students – both of which are crucial for this vision.

After a summer of precarious working conditions, a lack of financial support for international students and recent graduates, and the cancelled Canada Student Service Grant, students hoped that this new parliamentary session would include increased support for post-secondary education. “Throughout the pandemic, the Federal Government has failed to adequately support students. International students and recent graduates were excluded from support plans, and those that were eligible didn’t receive enough” said Nicole Brayiannis, Canadian Federation of Students Deputy Chairperson. Instead of bridging these gaps, today’s Throne Speech emphasized a focus on job training and creation. Brayiannis added, “Students want to remind the Trudeau Government that investing in post-secondary education and supporting students who are already receiving training is essential to the goals that were identified today.”

Since March, students have been calling on the Federal Government to provide adequate financial support to ensure they can afford to continue their education amidst the current crisis. “The Trudeau Government needs to stop and listen to what students are asking for,” said Sofia Descalzi, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Students want the same support as everyone else to help them through this pandemic. Instead, they’ve been met with patchwork programs.”

Following the cancellation of the failed Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), students have called for CSSG funds to be reallocated into a four-month extension of the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), an increase of the CESB to $2000 per month, and the expansion of CESB eligibility to include international students and recent graduates. Most recently, students have endorsed Motion 46, to convert the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) into a guaranteed livable basic income.

Students assert that investments into post-secondary education are crucial for a just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Current students and recent graduates need adequate financial support right now. At the same time, the Federal Government should begin to move towards investing in a post-secondary education system that is fully publicly funded. By ensuring that everyone can access the post-secondary education they need, we all stand a better chance at rebuilding the economy.

The Canadian Federation of Students unites over 500,000 college and university students and more than 60 students’ unions throughout the country.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students

For further information: Melissa Palermo, Staff: [email protected] or 416-529-8205; Sofia Descalzi, Chairperson: [email protected] or 613-232-7394; Nicole Brayiannis, National Deputy Chairperson: [email protected] or 289-200-2375

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http://cfs-fcee.ca/

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Husky Energy gives Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada to schools in Saskatchewan

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“The Province of Saskatchewan is proud to accept this generous donation on behalf of thousands of high school students who will benefit from increasing their knowledge of the important role that First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples play in the history of this country,” Saskatchewan Deputy Premier and Minister of Education Gordon Wyant said.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action cite mandatory Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Indigenous peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions as a top priority.

“The important role and long history of Indigenous People in our country has traditionally not been well told, well shared or properly included in the education system in Canada,” says Janet Annesley, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Human Resources. “Husky is honoured to be a contributing partner in this program by providing a copy of the atlas and online learning resources to students and educators to promote a better understanding of the lives and history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.”

The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada is a ground-breaking educational resource, unprecedented in scope. It includes a four-volume print atlas, an online interactive atlas with an accompanying app, Giant Floor Maps, and various other educational resources for classrooms. All educational resources related to the atlas will be made available online to educators in Saskatchewan at Canadian Geographic Education’s website (http://www.cangeoeducation.ca/resources/indigenous_resources/) as part of this gift.

“Indspire applauds Husky Energy’s generous donation of copies of the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada to all high schools in Saskatchewan,” says Indspire CEO Roberta Jamieson. “Indspire is proud to have been a partner in the creation of the atlas and is delighted to see this resource become more readily available to teachers and students to promote learning about First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, nations and territories as a vital part of Canada’s identity.”

The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada was produced in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and Indspire. The atlas was published by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2018 as a response to the Truth and Rec- onciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and as a Canada 150 legacy project supported by Canadian Heritage.

Please join us for our video announcement: youtube.com/canadiangeographic.

Social Media Links


Husky

Métis National Council

Twitter: @HuskyEnergy

Twitter: @MNC_Tweets

Instagram: @HuskyEnergy


Facebook: @HuskyEnergy

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Canadian Geographic

@ITK_CanadaInuit

Twitter: @CanGeo


Instagram: @CanGeo

Assembly of First Nations

Facebook: @CanGeo

Twitter: @AFN_Updates

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation


Twitter: @NCTR_UM

RCGS

Indspire

Twitter: @RCGS_SGRC

Twitter: @Indspire


Instagram: @indspire.ca

Canadian Geographic Education

Facebook: @Indspire

Twitter: @CanGeoEdu

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/indspire


SOURCE Royal Canadian Geographical Society

For further information: Media Information: Kim Guttormson, Manager, Communication Services, Husky Energy, Phone: (403) 298-7088, Email: [email protected]; Nick Foglia, Vice President, Communications & Marketing, Indspire, Phone: (416) 987- 0240, Email: [email protected], Email: [email protected], Sarah Legault, National Director of Development Royal Canadian Geographical Society Mobile: (416) 277-4341, Email: [email protected]

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http://www.rcgs.org/

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