Last week, our colleague Ghanimat Azhdari was one of the 176 people who lost their lives in a plane that crashed just outside of Tehran, Iran. While our interaction with Ghanimat was brief, our team had the pleasure and honour of working with Ghanimat at the First Arab Land Conference, which took place in Dubai in February of 2018.
Ghanimat was born in southwestern Iran and was a proud member of the Qashqai tribe of Iran. A Geographic Information System (GIS) specialist, Ghanimat worked tirelessly with many of Iran’s nomadic tribes, travelling across the country and supporting the national federation of Iranian nomadic tribes (UNINOMAD) to document their territories of life through their own worldviews and perspectives.
A determined young woman, her aspiration to pursue a PhD in Canada were mentioned and discussed with us during our time together. Just a few months later, she was accepted for study at the University of Guelph, where she was carrying out research in the college of social and applied human sciences, mapping and cataloging Iran's indigenous nomadic communities. Her fight to have the voices of Indigenous peoples included in the decisions made about their traditional territories continued through to her final days.
Her dedication to her work was clear and obvious but what was more tangible, echoed by all those that came into contact with her, was her passion for people. The collective global movement that we are all a part of is indeed mourning her loss; grateful for the contribution and impact which she made and saddened by the fact that she still had so much left to do. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones in this difficult time.