Free haircuts serve as a way to welcome Afghan refugees to their new life in Calgary

Goat Salon, with help from other stylists, giving free cuts to men, women and children

As dozens of Afghan refugees start to get settled in Calgary, following a chaotic and heart-wrenching exit from their home, some began to feel the need for a new look to go along with their new life.
Because they weren’t prepared when they left Kabul, it kind of happened last minute, so some of them were feeling quite unkempt, said Bindu Narula, director of settlement and integration services for the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.
The refugees also spent a two-week stint quarantining in Toronto before heading west.
The society reached out to Goat Salon in southwest Calgary to see if they could provide their services for free to a few folks.
That’s turned into 78 and counting.
We just feel very honoured, said Amanda Weightman, manager of Goat Salon.
A lot of us have immigrant backgrounds, and so I think it’s an issue close to our hearts as well, added Weightman.
Despite the impact of COVID-19 on this industry, Weightman says 20 stylists from several Calgary salons — including Notorious Hair Group, Ça Va Bien Hair Studio, Johnny’s Barber + Shop, Social Cut & Shave and Red Bloom — have stepped forward to provide their services for free on their days off.
In order to provide a culturally safe service, men and women were serviced separately, with a team of female stylists for the female clients.
Each group of clients had an interpreter with them, and the clients had pictures of their desired hairstyles on their phones.
Richard De Los Reyes, the owner of Goat Salon, notes everyone knows someone who has lost their job, or their home, or been uprooted as in the case of a refugee, so he says it’s important to give back when you can.
“We could do more in making sure that all of us are taking care of each other. We could do so much more.
This is one thing that we have done. We need to make sure that it’s not the last,” he said.
Ajmal Rasikh recalls the harrowing experience at the Kabul airport prior to getting on a plane bound for Canada with his wife and two children, ages seven and five. He left his parents behind but hopes to bring them to Calgary soon.
Let’s see what we can do for our families left behind there [while] their case is under process, if hopefully they come here … it will be a very good, like happy situation for us again to start living, said Rasikh.
Rasikh says getting a haircut in Kabul is no different than in Calgary.
But he says he’s been trimming his own hair lately so he appreciates having a professional clean it up.
De Los Reyes says he doesn’t expect to see Raskih or other refugees in his chair again.
But he hopes the salon will serve as a reminder of the feelings they had when they first arrived in Calgary.
If they ended up staying in the city and they drove by this area, walked by this area, and they realize ‘that’s the place where I had my first haircut here in the city and that place welcomed us, they made this experience as living here so much greater’ — then we’ve done our job, said De Los Reyes.
Colleen Underwood · CBC News