‘This day is not one we’ll be forgetting’: Syrian refugee family opening clothing shop on first anniversary in Canada

As his family’s one-year anniversary in Canada approaches, Ammar Hud Hud is reeling with excitement.

Not only does Oct. 30 mark a year since he and his family landed in Canada as sponsored refugees, it will also be the grand opening of his brick-and-mortar women’s clothing and tailor shop in Nova Scotia.

Ammar’s Apparel is located at 9B Pottery Lane in Antigonish.

“It’s a really, really good feeling. We are very happy,” Hud Hud told The Chronicle Herald through an interpreter.

“This day is not one we’ll be forgetting.”

In 2012, Hud Hud, his wife, Kinaz Albaghada, and their two children, Samy and Esraa Hud Hud, fled Syria, where they lost their home and a successful clothing factory. They stayed in Jordan for half a year and Egypt for seven years.

They then came to Nova Scotia, joining their relatives, Tareq Hadhad and his family in Antigonish. Hadhad is the successful entrepreneur behind Peace by Chocolate.

With the support of the community, Hud Hud, who has 30 years of experience working as a tailor in Syria, returned to his passion in April and launched his online shop.

At that time, he said he expected to focus solely on designing women’s clothing and offering tailoring services. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Hud Hud shifted his focus to designing masks to keep Nova Scotians protected from the virus.

Over the course of the pandemic, Hud Hud and his family have made more than 1,000 masks. They celebrated Canada Day by selling masks featuring the Canadian flag on them to people all over the country.

Since then, Hud Hud said, he has remained busy tending to customer orders over Facebook and has had his sights set on opening a physical store in an effort to “contribute to (Antigonish) and our new country in these challenging times.”

With that dream finally becoming a reality, Hud Hud said he feels “very grateful and thankful.”

“When I lost my factory, I never imagined I was going to restart my life, especially in Canada. So this moment will be the biggest moment for my life, because I am restarting my business and restarting my life after I lost it.”

At the new shop, Hud Hud will sell casual clothing, athletic wear and pyjamas for women, in addition to masks. He will also take tailoring requests from customers.

Hud Hud said he wants to give back to the community by helping people find clothing that suits them, and he eventually hopes to hire more people to work at Ammar’s Apparel.

“I am very excited to open my shop in Antigonish (for) the people who welcomed me and opened their arms for me to help me settle in Canada,” he said.

Ammar’s Apparel’s grand opening event will start at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 30. Hud Hud will be cutting a red ribbon to mark the occasion, and the shop will be open from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for customers to come and browse, with a limit on attendants due to COVID-19. There will also be Syrian desserts and refreshments offered.

A website for Ammar’s Apparel will go up the same day, with more details to be announced on Facebook.

While he may not be opening his store in the most ideal circumstances due to the pandemic, Hud Hud said he’s just grateful to be in Canada and likes to “forget the bad moments (in life) and think about the beautiful things.”

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