A family of Syrian refugees living in Montreal since 2016 has made one of their dreams a reality.
Three years after fleeing war in their home country, the Halabis have opened their own barbershop.
“I am very, very happy,” said Jamal Halabi, who came to Canada with his wife and two children. “It was my dream to open this shop.”
Global News met the Halabi family after they arrived in Canada, watching as they experienced their first snowball fight.
WATCH: Syrian refugee family plays in the Montreal snow for the first time
Back then, in 2016, Jamal’s only customer was his son. After years of hard work, Salon Jamal Style opened three months ago.
“I am very, very happy here. I feel here is my country,” said Halabi on Friday.
Halabi was a barber for decades in Syria. He learned the craft from his father, who still lives there. When war broke out, Halabi had to close his shop.
“All the cutting, all the beard, my father taught me everything,” he told Global News.
On Friday, Halabi was cutting the hair of Adnan Al Mhamied, another Syrian Montrealer. Al Mhamied is a doctoral student at McGill who studies Syrian refugees and their employment prospects in Canada.
“We must always remember that these people used to feed their families. They had jobs, then something happened that they had nothing to do with. It’s a tragedy that affected all the people,” Al Mhamied said.
When Global News first spoke to the Halabis, neither Jamal nor his wife Hibba could speak English or French.
Jamal’s English has vastly improved, and Hiba is getting better and better in French.
“I hope this works for my husband,” Hiba said in French. “He’s a good husband, and a good man.”
In 2016, Abigail Jacob sponsored the Halabis with her husband and their company. She described a recent get-together at the Halabi household where she encountered new friends the refugees had made.
“It was so nice to see they were making friends in the community and immersing themselves in Quebec life,” said Jacob.
Halabi says business is going well at his shop.
“I have a mix of people here — I have Arabic people, Canadian people, Greek people,” he said.
He anticipates more customers will come as word of mouth spreads. For her part, Hiba dreams of opening a restaurant or a daycare someday.
Salon Jamal Style is at 6148 Gouin O.