Cutting a path to a brighter future in Langley

Syrian refugee takes ownership of Ol’ Crow Barbershop in McBurney Plaza

Issa Khal, a refugee from Aleppo, Syria, came to Langley 16 months ago with nothing but his family and his barbering skills.

Sponsored by Crossway Church, the Khal family was living in Lebanon at the time of their relocation; religious persecution in their home country caused them to flee.

After arriving to Canada and accepting a job at a local barbershop in December of 2017, Khal purchased the Ol’ Crow Barber from his former employer and has taken ownership as of May 31.

“I like Langley,” Khal said with the help of a translating application on his phone. “The place is quiet and slow. It smells good. It has a better system.”

Khal is a trained barber, having learned back in Syria from a shop owner that took him under his wing in 1995. The first thing he did after arriving to Langley was walk into the Ol’ Crow and ask for a job in the little English he knew.

The local entrepreneurial success comes as Canada observes World Refugee Day on June 20, a UN initiative since the year 2000 to bring awareness to refugees situations across the globe.

Read more: former refugee turned Langley soccer star heading from LSS to TWU

The BC Refugee Hub, a program of ISSofBC, is a government run resource centre trying to promote community stories like Khal’s and showcase the role refugees are playing in both society and the economy.

In the wake of World Refugee Day, the Hub stated “in this province alone, refugees who arrived in 2016 will contribute $563 million in local economic activity in the next 20 years.”

The eclectic business in McBurney Plaza is known for it’s decorative mix of British rock posters, Gothic ornaments, and nod to classic barbershops from the past.

Khal says the aesthetic won’t change under his ownership, but he does plan to take out a division wall to give the singular room more space.

“I want to stay here long term,” Khal assured, with plans to open a chain of Ol’ Crow barbershops across the Lower Mainland.

Until that plan comes into fruition, people can stop in at the one and only location, 20508 Fraser Hwy, for a haircut.

“Everyone knows about it already,” Khal said regarding his ownership. “People are always coming in and saying congratulations.”

For more information and to see Khal’s reviews, people can visit the Ol’ Crow’s Yelp page.

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Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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