“Families of the Air India bombing victims are moving from group memorials to small, private gatherings and online condolences as they commemorate the 35th anniversary of the worst mass murder in Canadian history during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Physical distancing rules and restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people have resulted in a shift from the in-person memorial services that are held annually in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver.
Air India Flight 182 disappeared from radar off the coast of Ireland after a bomb exploded on the airplane on June 23, 1985, killing 329 people.
Among the dead were 280 Canadians and 86 children.
Renée Sarojini Saklikar, who lost her uncle, Dr. Umar Jethwa, and aunt, Zebunnisa Jethwa, in the bombing, visited the memorial in Vancouver’s Stanley Park on Monday to mourn them privately.
‘There is always this reminder of the senselessness of these sorts of acts. The violence of it is always brought home to me,’ she said.”
This past month, I was honoured to be invited to do a reading from children of air india at the West Cork Arts Centre. Below, a summary of the Irish news coverage regarding the 30th anniversary of the bombing of Air India Flight 182:
Guest reading in Skibbereen, Ireland on June 22 titled History, Grief, Remembrance: the bombing of Air India Flight 182, June 23, 1985, a Canada/Ireland connection.
“This event at Uillinn will probe in these various ways “the central proposition that violence emits a continuing sonar, an echolocation that finds us, as citizens/individuals/people, and as a community/nation/gathering.”
Date: Monday 22 June, 2015 Time: 7:00pm Location: Uillinn – West Cork Arts Centre Free Event, Booking required All welcome
I’ll also visit the Air India Memorial in Ahakista, Ireland to attend the 30th Anniversary memorial: there is a garden on the shores of the Sheep’s Head peninsula, a long stone wall carved with the names of the dead and a sundial sculpture… each year local Cork families and school children join returning Air India family members in a short service. One of my first Air India poems imagined this experience: “Flying across Canada to Ireland” and it is now embedded across the length of the book, children of air india.