Courtenay man identified as one of 18 Canadians killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, March 11, 2019 10:51AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 12, 2019 9:19AM PDT
A Vancouver Island man has been identified as one of the 157 people killed when an Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed en route to Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday morning.
Courtenay's Micah Messent, an environmental advocate who friends say worked as a BC Parks Ranger, was reportedly one of 18 Canadians killed in the crash.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 plane went down outside Addis Ababa shortly after take-off. Authorities are still combing over the wreckage to determine why it crashed.
Messent recently posted on Facebook that he had been chosen by the United Nations as a delegate for its fourth Assembly of the Environment, to be held in Kenya.
"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," Messent wrote. "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!"
He was one of many people on the plane who were headed to the conference in Nairobi, including Winnipeg resident Danielle Moore, 24.
In an online profile, Messent, who traces his family lineage back to the Red River Metis Nation in Manitoba, said he was raised as the youngest of five siblings in the Comox Valley, on the traditional territory of the K'omoks First Nation.
Remembered for environmental, Indigenous advocacy
The First Nations Leadership Council issued a statement Monday saying it was "very saddened to hear" of Messent's passing and noted that he was active in Indigenous youth programs.
"Micah, an avid sailor, was a graduate of the Indigenous Studies program at [Vancouver Island University] and had plans to return to school in the future to pursue a law degree," the organization said in a statement. "The FLNC 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 alongside Micah."
Employment and Social Development Canada also released a statement confirming Messent was one of four crash victims who were heading to Nairobi as part of a volunteer youth program called Canada Service Corps.
"These bright, young Canadians were an inspiration: compassionate leaders, dedicated to the conviction that they could build a better future for our country," said federal employment and labour minister Patty Hajdu. "It is a tragic and profound loss for their family, friends and Canada. My sincere and deepest sympathies to their loved ones during this difficult time."
Laura Cuthbert, who met Messent through a Mountain Equipment Co-Op outdoor summit, said he'll be remembered as someone who "cared deeply" for environmental issues.
"Quiet when silence was needed, jokes when laughter was the route. His drive for Indigenous futurisms and sovereignty echoed those he had listened to for his entire life," she told CTV News. "He was a wonderful listener and a big-hearted friend, he connected those he loved to one another and I hope we can continue that echo in this hard time."
More touching tributes emerged on social media as news broke that Messent was among the dead.
"If you were at the recent Outdoor Nation Summit in Vancouver, you know how passionate he was about the environment as a BC Parks Ranger, an Oceanwise Ambassador, and most recently selected by UN Nation as a member of their delegation for the 4th UN Assembly of the Environment," Alicia Taggio posted to a public Facebook group. "Sadly, en route to Kenya to do something he was so very passionate about, we lost our beloved Micah."
According to his Facebook page, Messent had also worked for BC Parks as an Indigenous Relations Analyst and Training Specialist and had a Bachelor's degree in Indigenous Studies from Vancouver Island University.
The federal government has not yet confirmed the identities of the deceased Canadians. Messent's family has asked for privacy.