Windsor prof gets gift from student who died in Iran plane crash 1 year after she died

·2 min read

Samira Bashiri had intended to return to Windsor from Iran with a gift, a piece of artwork for professor Lisa Porter.

Bashiri, who worked as a research assistant at Porter's biomedical lab at the University of Windsor, never made it back. She and her husband were killed after their plane was shot down in Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020.

But nearly one year later, the piece, adorned with flowers and birds including robins — a symbol of hope — has found its way to Porter.

"She always wanted us here in Canada to see the beauty in Iran that she saw," Porter said.

"So to me, every time I look at it, I think that that's what she wanted us to remember."

Courtesy Lisa Porter
Courtesy Lisa Porter

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by an Iranian missile after taking off in Tehran one year ago. According to the federal government, 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents were among the 176 on board.

Bashiri was one of five members of the Windsor community killed in the crash. Porter said she's still struggling to comprehend that it happened.

"It's just so unbelievable that something so tragic could happen. The majority of the people on that flight were academics, students — so many young lives," she said.

Tahmina Aziz/CBC
Tahmina Aziz/CBC

After the crash, Porter heard from one of Bashiri's friends, who explained that during Bashiri's trip, she spent time looking for a gift for Porter.

As it turned out, however, Bashiri's suitcase was on a different flight than the one Bashiri and her husband took.

Bashiri's family made sure Porter received the gift. About a month ago, her father came to Windsor to retrieve her things.

"He gave me the artwork that Samira had picked out for me," she said.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

At the time of her death, Bashiri was working on cancer research at the lab, buoyed by her expertise as a veterinarian.

"With students, you spend a great deal of time with them, you work with them, and then you get to see them go off and fulfil their potential," she said.

"And I just really ... When you lose a student like that, you just never get to see what they've going to become."

Listen to the full interview below: