Workers walk past flowers laid at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, south of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia Wednesday, March 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mulugeta Ayene

Workers walk past flowers laid at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, south of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia Wednesday, March 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mulugeta Ayene

Remains of 7 Canadians killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash return home

Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed just six minutes into the flight

A Toronto man saw a months-long wait draw to a bittersweet end on Tuesday as he returned to Canada with the bodies of two relatives who were killed in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane this year.

Mohamad Ali said he waited seven months before he was cleared to go to Ethiopia and retrieve the remains of his sister Amina Odowa and her five-year-old daughter Sophia Abdulkadir.

The two were among 18 Canadians who died in March when the plane went down en route to Kenya, killing all 157 people on board.

Ali said touching their caskets for the first time brought him a sense of lightness, energy, and a measure of peace.

“Coming with them all the way, I feel their presence all over me right now,” Ali said. “This is very important. It feels good now they are with us.”

The mother and daughter were among a group of seven Canadians who were repatriated at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Tuesday morning. But the journey for Odowa and Sophia is set to continue through the week.

Ali said he plans to fly with his sister and niece’s remains to Edmonton on Tuesday night and bury them side-by-side on Friday in a small Muslim ceremony.

He said doing so will allow Odowa’s mother and her other two daughters, ages four and eight, to visit her grave and say prayers.

Ali said the burial will help bring the closure that’s proved elusive for the family since the crash, adding the wait to claim their bodies was particularly trying.

“We’ve been very unsettled,” he said. ”We couldn’t do a lot of things like move forward because we were on standby the last seven months, waiting for the remains to come.”

The Ethiopian Airlines flight left the capital city of Addis Ababa on its way to Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10. The Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed just six minutes into the flight.

The incident was strikingly similar to last year’s crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia, which involved the same type of aircraft coming to harm moments after takeoff.

The crashes prompted a widespread grounding of the 737 Max 8 while concerns about its safety were investigated.

In several lawsuits filed on behalf of Canadian victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, plaintiffs allege the pilots were in a tug-of-war with the plane’s automated flight system, manually trying to climb while the computer caused the craft to dive repeatedly and ultimately crash.

Canadian victims included a renowned Carleton University professor, an accountant with the City of Calgary and a 24-year-old Winnipeg woman on her way to the United Nations Environment Assembly.

American authorities including the United States House of Representatives, the Department of Justice and the Transportation Department inspector general are investigating how the Max 8 was certified for flight by the Federal Aviation Administration.

READ MORE: B.C. environmentalist killed in Ethiopian Airline crash

— With files from the Associated Press

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read