It was a small service in a roadside church in Hammonds Plains, half a world away from Ethiopia, but the gathering had a powerful purpose; Remember the victims and unite as a community in mourning.

“Words fail to describe how grief unites us, a different language, we all have the same tears, we all have the same sadness, mothers grieve the same way, fathers grieve the same way, so it’s heavy, it’s just heavy,” said Tiblet Kidanu, who immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia in the 1980’s.

A group of Ethiopian Canadians gathered at a Halifax area church on Saturday morning to remember the 157 people who died last week after Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed minutes after takeoff.

“It’s really heartbreaking to think that so many people could have lost their lives in an instant,” said Father Les Zewdie, priest at St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The service included messages from other faith leaders, visits from provincial officials, and a chance for individuals to share their feelings.

“When everybody comes together to pay respects, to grieve, to hold each other up, that to me gives great optimism for our future and how we see things,” said Tony Ince, MLA for Cole Harbour-Portland Valley.

“When we come together we find such unity, and we find such common ground to stand on. So I feel excited and privileged to come and worship, whether we’re in a time of grieving like today, or in a time of great celebration,” says Rev. Tammy Hodge of St. Nicholas Church.

Tiblet Kidanu says she was thinking about everyone who lost their lives in the crash- including the two young women with ties to Halifax, recent Dalhousie University graduates Angela Rehhorn and Danielle Moore.

“There were these two people, I might have crossed them on the street. So it’s not only our own Ethiopian people, but people that touch the city,” said Kidanu.

A global message of love, from a small community in Halifax.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.