Syrian hairdressers build a new life in Canada

Tawfik Allaham and Rajaa Ibrahim working at GoCuts! on University Avenue on Aug. 1. Tori Vail photo.

By Tori Vail

August 1, 2016

Every day for 25 years in Damascus, people came in and out of the salon where Rajaa Ibrahim and Tawfik Allaham worked at for 25 years.

“People came to get their haircut. Women would get their make-up done. People wanted to look good all the time,” Allaham said.

That was last year. Today, the couple works at a hair salon in P.E.I.

“That is not how it here is in Canada,” Allaham said. “Here in Canada, people will come every couple months.”

Ibrahim and Allaham were master hairstylists in Syria. When the war started they decided they had to move and headed to Canada for their children, Tereeza, 12, and Rebeel, 17.

“We were scared, the bombs,” Teereeza said.

Last year, the family arrived on P.E.I. and started looking for work. They went to PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada and started talking with their employment counselor, Amy MacLean. Jason Pitre at GoCuts on University Avenue hired them.

The family has been adjusting well in Canada, Ibrahim said.

“Most people are good. Everyone helps me quickly. Everyone here smiles, it’ s very good,”

They are learning English and Islanders are always happy to help, Allaham said.

“They say ‘You don’t speak English? That is OK, we don’t speak Arabic,’” he said.

Ibrahim said, “We are very happy on P.E.I.”