B.C. mayor 'honoured' recipient of first haircut by Alan Kurdi's uncle

VANCOUVER -- A Syrian refugee is finding comfort in his new homeland through the use of universal tools -- barber scissors and an electric trimmer.

See Full Article

Mohammed Kurdi gave his first haircut in Canada to the mayor of his city, an honour the politician and Kurdi's sister say symbolizes a fresh start for the family of a drowned Syrian boy.

Mayor Richard Stewart of Coquitlam, B.C., was Kurdi's first customer this week at a salon opened by Tima Kurdi, the aunt of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a Turkish beach last September.

A week after members of the Kurdi family arrived in British Columbia, Stewart requested a cut from Mohammed Kurdi as a gesture of welcome and support.

Kurdi had worked as a barber for 15 years in Syria, but officials stopped him from offering his services in a refugee camp in the Middle East.

"It seemed obvious to me he took comfort in those tools in his hands, Stewart said Friday. "He probably doesn't have many in his day to day, these days. But those tools were familiar.

"I just saw such hope in his face. He said, 'I want to work. Thank you all for your support, but I don't want to be reliant on the help of others.'

"We were both incredibly honoured, I think. I was deeply honoured to have him cut my hair."

Kurdi, his wife and their five children arrived in British Columbia on Dec. 28 and were sponsored by Tima Kurdi, who has become an unofficial spokeswoman for people fleeing war-torn Syria. The family has been showered in media attention after a photo of their lifeless nephew sparked international sorrow about the humanitarian crisis.

The little boy died alongside his five-year-old brother and their mother while crossing the waters between Turkey and Greece.

The case took on special resonance in Canada. Alan's father, Abdullah Kurdi, attempted the treacherous journey when his brother Mohammed's original refugee application was rejected by the Canadian government. Not all the necessary documents were included.

Tima and Mohammed opened their new salon, Kurdi Hair Design, in Port Coquitlam on Tuesday. The man's children have started school and volunteers are planning to provide them tours of city hall, the police station, parks and recreation venues and the library.

Tima Kurdi, who translates for her brother, said Mohammed felt "proud" to cut the mayor's hair. His next goal is to learn to speak English so he can chat with their clients, she said.

"He said to me, 'Hopefully the next time they come back, in six weeks or a month, I'm going to say, 'Wow, nice to see you again,"' she said in an interview Friday. "I said, 'Take it step by step, and you're doing really, really good."'

Stewart said Mohammed Kurdi didn't want to accept the $24 payment and substantial tip for the cut, but he left the money with them as he departed. He described Kurdi's skills as meticulous and focused.

"He's obviously a very experienced barber. I came away with a pretty good haircut. And a really nice moment to share with them."

The Canadian government has pledged to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of February, and 6,974 people had arrived by Jan. 6.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Tim Kaine blasts Marco Rubio for support of Trump

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The Latest on the U.S. presidential race (all times EDT): 1:30 p.m. Tim Kaine is taking a shot at Republican Sen. Marco Rubio while campaigning in Florida. Kaine pointed to Rubio's past comments that Donald Trump is a "con artist" and "dangerous. Source
  • 10 transgender soldiers seek formal gender identity change

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- Within weeks of the Pentagon allowing transgender service members to serve openly, Army officials said 10 soldiers have formally asked to be recognized as their new, preferred gender. The small number represents only those who have publicly said they are transgender, and doesn't include soldiers who may be considering or beginning gender transition or those who don't yet want to make an official paperwork change. Source
  • Divers provide clearer idea of damage to sunken tug on B.C.'s central coast

    Canada News CTV News
    BELLA BELLA, B.C. -- A report says two tanks containing oil or contaminants from a submerged tug west of Bella Bella, off British Columbia's central coast, were either torn open or severely damaged when the vessel ran aground. Source
  • France destroying Calais migrant camp known as ‘the jungle’, thousands evacuated [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    CALAIS, France — Lines of migrants with their lives in small bags waited calmly to get on buses in the French port city of Calais on Monday, the first day of the mass evacuation and destruction of the squalid camp they called home. Source
  • 'Serial' star Adnan Syed asks to be released from jail

    World News CTV News
    BALTIMORE -- A defendant awaiting retrial for the slaying of his high school girlfriend and whose story was the centre of a popular podcast is asking to be released from prison. Justin Brown is a lawyer representing Adnan Syed. Source
  • Brock University stamps out ‘prohibited’ Halloween costumes

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — One Ontario university has already laid down the law on what costumes will be “prohibited” at the campus Halloween party this year. Brock University’s list includes ankle-length robes worn by Arab men, makeup depicting Japanese geishas, anything with the Confederate flag on it, and costumes that depict Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender celebrity. Source
  • Plans to expand Tim Hortons abroad unfazed by geopolitics, says RBI CEO

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — The CEO of the parent company of Tim Hortons said Monday he plans to keep pushing with an international expansion of the coffee-and-doughnut chain despite softness in the quick-service restaurant industry as well as political unrest and economic uncertainty abroad. Source
  • Plane on French anti-smuggling mission crashes in Malta, 5 killed

    World News CBC News
    A small aircraft conducting a surveillance mission over the Mediterranean for France's defence ministry crashed on take-off in Malta on Monday, killing all five people on board. The ministry declined to say what the purpose of the surveillance operation was. Source
  • Online literacy test for Ontario students cancelled due to cyberattack: EQAO

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Ontario agency tasked with administering the first online literacy test to tens of thousands of high school students in the province last week says it was forced to pull the plug by an "intentional, malicious and sustained" cyberattack. Source
  • Dennis Oland’s conviction for murdering father overturned

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    FREDERICTON - New Brunswick’s Court of Appeal has overturned Dennis Oland’s conviction for the second-degree murder of his millionaire father, and ordered a new trial. Oland showed no immediate reaction, but his wife Lisa Oland gasped as she held hands with Dennis’s mother Connie. Source