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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. (File photo)
(Delta Police Department photo)
No offence in second incident involving a teen girl being approached in Tsawwassen: police

Police still investigating incident on Oct. 15 where teen girl was approached by older man in a burgundy car

A overview concept drawing of the Central District and its City Plaza, Gateway and Kennedy Heights neighbourhoods included in the Mayor’s Housing Task Force for Scott Road report. (City of Delta photo)
Walkable mixed-use neighbourhoods focus of task force’s vision for Scott Road

Report by Mayor’s Housing Task Force for Scott Road was presented to Delta council on Monday

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region over the last week.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
CHARTS: Weekly COVID-19 case double in Fraser North health area, up 50% in Vancouver

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region.

A total of 6,967 vote-by-mail packages were issued in Delta North during the 2020 provincial election, representing just over 18 per cent of the 37,998 registered voters in the riding. As of Thursday, Oct. 29, 3,825 certification envelopes have been received by officials in the riding ahead of the final count on Nov. 6. (Liam Harrap photo)
Over 3,800 mail-in, absentee ballots received in Delta North to date

6,967 vote-by-mail packages issued in the riding, representing over 18 per cent registered voters

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Excelsior 4 are set to make their second court appearance in Abbotsford on Monday (Nov. 2). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
‘Excelsior 4’: Animal activists set to enter not guilty plea in Abbotsford hog farm case

Animal rights activists expected to plead not guilty to charges, protest for Vancouver scheduled

Dennis Cholowski shows off a Jordan 2 Retro Just Don Blue sneaker, the type of shoe only a true sneakerhead would appreciate. (Facebook photo)
VIDEO: Chilliwack Chiefs alum Dennis Cholowski shows off ‘sneakerhead’ collection

The Detroit Red Wing has been spending his NHL paycheques building up an impressive closet of shoes

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Maestro Otto Tausk. (Photo: vancouversymphony.ca)
50/50 lotto players buck up for Metro Vancouver musicians hit hard by COVID

‘Rapidly growing jackpot’ for VSO’s 50/50 draw as they go online with TheConcertHall.ca

Most Read