When Ammar Hudhud and his family landed in Nova Scotia in October 2019 as sponsored refugees, they were ready to start a new life in a new country, putting their rough past behind them.
Hudhud, his wife Kinaz Albaghada, and their two children, Samy and Esraa Hudhud, came to the province after fleeing Syria, where they lost their home and a successful sewing and clothing business, for Jordan and later Egypt.
Little did they know how quickly Nova Scotia and Canada at large would become their new home.
“It’s amazing. We love our home. We found nice people, a nice home and we are really happy to (be) here,” said Hudhud.
With the support of the community, Hudhud, who has 30 years of experience working as a tailor in Syria, returned to his passion and launched a sewing and clothing business, Ammar’s Apparel, in Antigonish two months ago.
The initial plan for the business was to design women’s clothing and offer tailoring services, but when COVID-19 hit the province, Hudhud shifted his focus.
“We wanted to open a women’s clothes business, but then COVID-19 came, so we decided to make masks to protect the people here,” he said.
In the beginning, Hudhud and his son Samy Hudhud were making masks for Nova Scotians and other Canadians for free. They later started selling them.
The orders started pouring in and the father and son duo have since worked eight hours a day tending to them. By now, they’ve crafted about 1,000 cotton masks.
Leading up to Canada Day, which is the Hudhud’s family’s first, they launched a line of Canada Day masks with Canadian flags on them, made with 100 per cent cotton.
It’s how they felt they could “celebrate our new home here, with the people here,” said Hudhud, given the fact that COVID-19 has made it difficult for people to celebrate occasions in large gatherings.
By Tuesday afternoon, Hudhud said they sold more than 200 Canada Day masks to people all over Canada.
“We feel very proud and very happy to (keep) people protected,” he said.
He added it’s been extremely rewarding, giving him a chance to thank the country for everything it has done for him and his family and an opportunity for them to be active residents and Canadian citizens-to-be in a few years.
Hudhud said he plans to continue making masks for Canadians throughout the pandemic and hopes to introduce women’s clothing at his business by next week.
This, he said, would not be possible without the help of Canadians who allowed him to make his dream job a reality and welcomed his family with open arms upon their arrival in Nova Scotia. And for that, he said he’s forever grateful.
“We really thank the people here and the government for helping us to grow our business here and just to feel like we are in our country.”