On January 8th, Flight 752 of Ukraine International Airlines was departing Iran and was mistaken for an air missile amidst the high tension with the United States.
Two missiles were directed to the plane, approximately thirty seconds apart, and none of the 176 people aboard survived.
Of the 176, 138 aboard were on their way to Canada as their final destination, a mixture of Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and those with work and school visas.
Among these 138 Canadian bound passengers was Mansour Pourjam from Ontario. He studied biology at Carleton University and then went on to work as a dental technician in Ottawa.
A memorial was held on Wednesday at Carleton University with more than 200 mourners in attendance. The memorial was held for Mansour Pourjam as an alum and for a current student of molecular genetics, Fareed Arasteh, who was also a victim in the plane crash.
During the memorial, Pourjam's thirteen-year-old son, Ryan, came forward and gave a moving speech about staying positive, even during the darkest of times.
From the beginning of his speech, Ryan held onto his father's positivity.
"[My father would] always tell me to stay positive through the dark times and through the good, when we'd get stuck in traffic or when I couldn't get the coffee that I wanted."
Though his mentioning of not getting his favorite coffee brought a few chuckles from the audience, and reminded all of us how young this poised child actually is, Ryan's message went a lot deeper than simple disappointment.
"I don't want to talk about the bad things. Because I know that if my dad was alive and if someone else died in the crash and that he was right here giving a speech, he wouldn't talk about the bad stuff. I won't."
While wrapping up his speech, Ryan said he would describe his father as "strong," if only given one word to do so.
"He's been through tragedy after tragedy, wall after wall, wrong turn after wrong turn, and he stood strong. He was amazing, and we loved each other."
Ryan's poise broke for a moment, and the audience finally got a glimpse of the grief he was moving through.
"I stand up here a week after this horrible tragedy, and I still can't believe it. I feel like I'm dreaming... But I know that if I was dreaming, and that if he woke me up, he'd tell me that it's going to be OK. And it will be."
You can watch Ryan's full speech here:
While so many of us struggle to find the words to express our sadness over the many lives lost in last week's horri… https://t.co/3MbZSXD7zP— Catherine McKenna 🇨🇦 (@Catherine McKenna 🇨🇦) 1579142710.0
Thousands were moved since Wednesday when the speech appeared on Twitter. Some were furious for the unnecessary loss of all those aboard Flight 752.
Most simply voiced their gratitude for Ryan's poise and choice of words during such a dark time.
@cathmckenna @aseip1 Oh precious boy 😭💔— Shay (@Shay) 1579146914.0
@cathmckenna Wow, what a tribute to a father and what a father - such a loss!— Glenn Manderson (@Glenn Manderson) 1579178652.0
@cathmckenna An incredibly brave young man. I love how he said he didn’t want to focus on the bad because he father… https://t.co/zYwF8AaIFn— Andréa ‘Drew’ Rousseau 🇨🇦 (@Andréa ‘Drew’ Rousseau 🇨🇦) 1579147088.0
@cathmckenna @JeffreyLuscombe The sad part is his grief hasn’t hit him yet. It’s manageable to be strong when you’r… https://t.co/YaUQ2evpqL— Kelly🇨🇦 (@Kelly🇨🇦) 1579184856.0
@cathmckenna Wow...to Ryan...Mansour must have been a wonderful teacher, he taught you strength, dignity & grace. T… https://t.co/6qNDHi2zIp— ExpensiveWino 🍷 (@ExpensiveWino 🍷) 1579180918.0
Though Flight 752 is an immense loss, we can all take a lesson from Ryan's speech to continue to look for the good where we can.