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Trudeau says meetings with families of plane crash victims 'gut-wrenching'

Last Updated Jan 12, 2020 at 5:29 pm MST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a memorial for Canadian victims of the Iran plane crash. Jan, 12, 2020. (PHOTO: Carly Robinson, CityNews)

EDMONTON – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s been “gut-wrenching” to listen to stories from the families of 57 Canadians who perished in the downing of a Ukrainian jetliner in Iran last week.

Speaking at a memorial for victims in Edmonton Sunday, Trudeau said he’s learned about who they were, what they loved doing and what their hopes were for the future.

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He told those attending the memorial that many came to Canada in search of new opportunities for their families, but those families are now consumed by grief and outrage.

While the tragedy has hit the Iranian-Canadian community hard, Trudeau said it’s a Canadian tragedy and all Canadians are in mourning.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also spoke at the memorial. He called the plane crash a result of “human folly” and said he and Alberta are confident that the Canadian government will work to get answers as to why the plane was shot down.

WATCH: Memorial in Edmonton for plane crash victims

Many other friends and family members of those lost in the crash spoke at the service, which included a performance of traditional Persian music.

Thousands attended another memorial service in Toronto for victims of the plane crash.

WATCH: Country grieves for victims of Iran crash

“Nothing can bring their dad back,” the brother of victim Farhad Niknam told CityNews. Niknam lived in Winnipeg with his wife and two daughters.

His brother said Niknam travelled between Canada and Iran to provide for his family and recently got recertified to practice dentistry in Canada.

This was supposed to be his last trip to Iran.

RELATED: Friends remember Winnipeg dentist who died in plane crash

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke at the Toronto memorial and told mourners that the tragedy is “Canada’s loss”.

“We have lost such incredible people,” she said. “Nothing will ever replace these brilliant lives that have been cut short.”

In downtown Vancouver, there was a public vigil where people gathered to pay their respects.

The aircraft was shot down accidentally by an Iranian missile moments after taking off from Tehran airport Wednesday; all 176 on board were killed, including 138 who were headed for Canada.

Iran has admitted the plane was mistaken for a hostile target amid soaring tensions with the United States.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2020.