Nova Scotia’s Ethiopian church honouring victims of plane crash

The St. Gebriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Hammonds Plains will hold a memorial service on Saturday morning for the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

The jet went down on Sunday just after takeoff in Addis Ababa. None of the 157 passengers and crew, including 18 Canadians, survived the crash.

Rev. Les Zewdie, founder and spiritual leader of the church, said it is important to honour those who died.

“We take it personal because we are of Ethiopian descent but we are Canadian and then also we are Haligonian,” Zewdie said in a telephone interview on Friday.

The deaths hit close to home for the Halifax connections of two of the victims, as well, he said.

Dalhousie University grads Angela Rehhorn and Danielle Moore were among the victims of the crash. Both had also volunteered with the Halifax-based Canadian Sea Turtle Network.

Rehhorn was with the United Nations Association of Canada Service Corps and was en route to a UN Environmental Assembly in Nairobi. Moore was going to the same assembly through her work with the Canada Learning Code and several other non-governmental organizations.

“All these things, to us is very personal,” Zewdie said. “Very touching. So therefore, we honour those who died there. It’s not their fault, it’s not anybody’s fault, it just happened.”

Zewdie said the Ethiopian community is also saddened because of further reaching effects from the crash, including economic impact on the African nation, as air travel was a big contributor. They also think of what could have been.

“And it’s kind of sad for us because it could (have been) me or anybody from our congregation,” he said. “They go home to Africa for summer and that’s what we usually use. “It’s very, very personal. It’s very touching. So we honour them. Like I say, there are a lot of connections to us as people of Halifax, as people of the Maritimes, as Canadians and as African (people) as well.”

The service will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

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