'We are all in pain': Canada-wide fundraiser aims to help families of Iran plane crash victims
TORONTO -- The CEO of Paramount Fine Foods is leading a national fundraising campaign to help the families who lost loved ones in the Iran plane crash last week.
Mohamad Fakih, founder of the restaurant chain, said the campaign titled “Canada Strong” will work with the Toronto Community Foundation to raise $1.5 million to help cover funeral costs for the victims.
“As we have seen in previous tragedies, people, families are [faced with] expenses they just couldn’t have anticipated,” Fakih said at a news conference Monday.
“Let’s all stand together, united in ensuring that those we lost are never forgotten and their family and friends feel Canada’s embrace.”
Officials said 57 Canadians were killed when the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was mistakenly shot down near Tehran last week. All 176 people on board were killed.
Mayor John Tory, who was also present at the news conference, said he received a call from Fakih this past weekend to discuss the campaign.
“When he calls I answer because I know he’s never calling to do something for himself, he’s always calling to do something for other people,” Tory told reporters.
“This is a national initiative … This is the Canadian thing to do for the victims, this is the right thing to do for the victim… and I know Canadians will respond.”
He said that any donation, big or small, will help to show the victims’ families that others stand in solidarity with them.
All donations will go to the Toronto Community Foundation, and donors will receive a tax receipt, the mayor said. Dentons Canada LLP has also agreed to partner with this initiative to provide pro bono legal services.
Fakih, who said he will also cover all of the campaign’s expenses, has already donated $30,000 himself to the foundation, and the New East Family Foundation also made a donation of $30,000 to launch “Canada Strong”.
He said doesn’t want people who have already suffered so much loss to also have to worry about whether or not they can afford the funeral expenses.
“When one of us is in pain, we are all in pain together,” Fakih said. “We are one family, one big family.”