A Courtenay man is among the 157 people who died after an Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed shortly after take-off from the Ethiopian capital on Sunday.
According to the airline, 149 passengers and eight crew members were on flight ET302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi in Kenya on Sunday. There were no survivors in the crash near Bishoftu, south of Addis Ababa.
Micah Messent, a young Métis environmentalist from Courtenay, was one of the 18 Canadians killed. He was on his way to meet other young leaders for the United Nations Environment Assembly, held this week in Kenya. He was chosen to go as a Canadian representative.
He posted an excited announcement about the trip on Instagram a day before the crash.
“I’m headed to Kenya TOMORROW where I’ll have the chance to meet with other passionate youth and leaders from around the world and explore how we can tackle the biggest challenges that are facing our generation. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and want to thank all of the people in my life who have helped me get this far. Wish me luck!” Messent wrote.
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Pretty stoked to announce that I’ve been selected by @unacanada as a member of their delegation for the 4th @unitednations Assembly of the Environment! Im headed to Kenya TOMORROW where I’ll have the chance to meet with other passionate youth and leaders from around the world and explore how we can tackle the biggest challenges that are facing our generation. Im so grateful for this opportunity and want to thank all of the people in my life who have helped me get this far. Wish me luck! ?? ✈️ ?? —————————————— #surprise @unenvironment @canadaservicecorps @canada @oceanwise @leaderstoday
Messent’s other Instagram posts show him with friends, with his partner and enjoying his career on the B.C. coast.
Messent’s family has acknowledged the news but has declined interviews. Friends and acquaintences have been posting condolences on social media since the crash.
Late Monday, premier John Horgan paid tribute to the BC Parks employee and recent indigenous youth intern.
“Micah was committed to tackling the challenges he saw around him in the world, both in his work to protect the environment and to advance reconciliation,” Horgan said in statement.
“On behalf of all British Columbians, we offer our thoughts and our prayers to his family and friends.”
Messent was the youngest of five siblings growing up in Courtenay on Vancouver Island’s east coast, traditional territory of the K’ómoks First Nation, according to a profile posted online last spring.
“Growing up, I spent much of my time exploring various communities across Vancouver Island with my family and sailing around the islands and inlets located throughout the Salish Sea … learning the rich histories and teachings associated with various traditional territories,” the profile reads.
He was also a member of the Red River Métis Nation in Manitoba, according to the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC).
The council described Messent as a “well-liked member” of the Year 11 (2017-18) intake of youth in the Indigenous Youth Internship Program (IYIP) – formerly the Aboriginal Youth Internship Program (AYIP), which each year provides a 12-month internship for up to 25 young Indigenous British Columbians, ages 19 to 29. Messent served his IYIP placement with the BC Parks branch of the Ministry of Environment.
“Micah’s placement with BC Parks provided him the opportunity to not only utilize his formal education, but also to exchange traditional teachings and life experiences with others,” the council said in a statement.
After finishing high school in 2013, Messent enrolled in Indigenous studies at Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo, B.C., with a focus on ocean geography.
Messent went on to work for B.C. Parks as an Indigenous Relations Analyst after graduating with his degree in 2018.
The First Nations Leadership Council said Messent was an avid sailor and had planned to return to school to pursue a law degree.
“The FNLC sends deepest condolences to the family, friends and community of Micah Messent during this sad time. As well, we are sending our thoughts to the Indigenous youth interns who worked along side Micah,” the council said.
VIU also offered its condolences in a statement.
“Micah was an engaged member of our community, contributing his time, energy and talents to his fellow students. Our hearts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time,” the university said.
VIU said counselling is available for sutdents in building 200, third floor, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For employees, support is available through Homewood Health at 1-800-663-1142. Individuals can also access 24/7 support through the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888 or text: 250-800-3806.
Messent was also part of Ocean Bridge, an ocean conservation program for Canadian youth.
Other Canadian victims that have been identified in the crash include Danielle Moore, a young Winnipeg activist who was also involved with Ocean Bridge and was on her way to the UN conference, Carleton University professor Pius Adesanmi and Derick Lwugi, an accountant from Calgary. Edmonton woman Amina Ibrahim Odowa, 33, and her daughter Sofia Abdulkadir, 5, were also killed.
With files from Rhianna Schmunk, CBC