He quickly became the face of the Syrian refugee crisis — the tragic image of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed up on the Turkish shore, after he and his family tried to escape the Syrian conflict, prompted many Canadians to open their hearts and doors to Syrian refugees. Now his relatives are building new lives in British Columbia.
Friends, family and total strangers recently gathered together in Port Coquitlam, B.C., to celebrate a very special salon opening. They gathered to show their support for young Alan Kurdi’s aunt, Tima Kurdi, and her brother, Mohammad, at the opening of the hair salon Kurdi Hair Designs.
Though Tima had bought the salon earlier this year, she told CTV Vancouver that it was important for her to hold off launching the salon until her brother joined her in Canada: “I said: ‘I’m going to wait for my brother because he’s going to join me working here.'” Tima privately sponsored Mohammad, his wife and their five children, then prepared rooms in her home for them upon their Dec. 28 arrival in Canada.
On the day of the family’s arrival, Tima expressed her gratitude to everyone who’d supported them on Twitter, posting a picture of a family meal laid out, writing “first meal with the family.”
First meal with the family, thank you friend and everyone, pic.twitter.com/TFs0e6xoQe
— Tima Kurdi (@TimaKurdi) December 28, 2015
Though Mohammed landed only days ago, he’s already hit the ground running, launching his new business. Tima told CTV that a passion for hair runs in the family: “He owned his own barber shop in Damascus for the last 15 years or more,” she said. “So it’s almost like it’s run in the family.”
Mohammed told CBC News (in Arabic as Tima translated for him) that he’s been putting in plenty of hard work to make the salon a success.
He said it felt wonderful to have his family reunited as refugees in Canada: “I’m very happy I’m in Canada and I saw my family again together again,” said Mohammed. “It’s [a] very beautiful feeling.”
Tima says the family is touched by the waves of support Canadians have shown them following young Alan’s tragic death.
“We don’t like asking too much for help,” Mohammad told CBC News. “We like to work and to bring our life together, work very hard to support our family.”
Since the death of her nephew, Tima has been working hard to advocate on behalf of other families like her own, fleeing the war in Syria. She told CTV her biggest wish is to see an end to the violence: “We hope in 2016 (there will be) peace to the world.”
— Tima Kurdi (@TimaKurdi) December 3, 2015