New residents forge new paths
Awards being presented to three area newcomers on March 14 in Truro
TRURO, N.S. – Three unassuming newcomers to Truro will be honoured Saturday, March 14 for their efforts in making their new home a happier place for all.
Hairdresser Nour Kojo, prospective restauranteur Hammad Farooq and outdoor enthusiast Mike Knowlton each received a Newcomer Award following submissions by their bosses and clients.
Kojo, Farooq and Knowlton will be presented with their awards at Truro’s Nowruz (Persian New Year) banquet at the Rath-eastlink Community Centre on March 14.
From: Idlib, Syria
Moved to Truro: 2018 Current job: hairdresser at Square Roots Hair and Esthetics
In the eyes of Michelle Leblanc, Nour Kojo is “a little ray of sunshine,” brightening up the Square Roots Hair and Esthetics hairdressing salon in Bible Hill.
But it wasn’t always easy for Kojo to shine, often shuttling between Syria and Lebanon for her father’s work, even before civil war engulfed her homeland.
Trapped in Lebanon as fighting raged in her birth city of Idlib, Kojo and her family finally made it to Truro in late 2018, sponsored by the Immanuel Baptist Church.
“I’m so happy, because a lot of people helped me to have a new life,” Kojo said, in halting English. “I find a lot of people smile always.”
Kojo has no trouble smiling back, enjoying light-hearted chit-chat with her hairdressing clients while on the job.
It was her upbeat nature that first earned Kojo a Newcomer Award nomination from Leblanc, who has high hopes for her young employee.
“She’s going to buy me out so I can retire,” Leblanc said.
Kojo lives in Truro with her father, sister and two brothers.
From: Jhelum, Pakistan Moved to Truro: 2016 Current job: supervisor at KFC/TACO Bell, Truro Hammad Farooq’s lifelong dream has been to have his own restaurant, where he can serve up the spicy and savoury flavours of his native Pakistan.
And, he feels those plans are on track in his current capacity as a supervisor at the KFC/TACO Bell restaurant on Robie Street, where he works to ensure a smooth dining service for customers.
“I feel most satisfied helping people,” Farooq said. “At KFC I have a leadership role and I can help both international workers and Canadians get settled. I wanted to teach them the right way of doing things as I took a food sciences course during my degree.”
Farooq is a graduate of the Weed Science program at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Bible Hill.
Franshise owner Don Hay nominated Farooq for the award after observing his dedication toward colleagues and customers.
“It is an honour for us,” Farooq said of the recognition. “I am very thankful to the owner and my whole team.”
Farooq recently took a short leave of absence from work, to help his wife Amna care for their baby Meerab, who was born Feb. 29, on the 2020 Leap Year.
From: Toronto via Halifax Moved to Truro: 2019 Current Job: sales associate at Hub Cycle
As a corporate-sector veteran from Toronto, Mike Knowlton wanted nothing more than a gentler pace of life.
He found it in Truro as a salesperson at Hub Cycle’s Inglis Place store and through leading regular hikes and fat-biking sessions for clients in Victoria Park. Knowlton has been nicknamed the “Pied Piper of Truro,” by some, for his frequent guided walks through the woods.
But the relative Truro newcomer never once suspected his clients and friends appreciated his efforts enought to submit his name for a Newcomer Award.
“I’m humbled, appreciative and honoured,” Knowlton said.
By staying active and involved in his new home, Knowlton hopes to achieve a healthy work-life balance, which he said was often lacking in Toronto.
“If you give people a positive experience, they recognize that,” Knowlton said. “I think when you get people to step outside their comfort zone, they recognize you for helping them find the balance in their lives.”
Official recognition aside, however, Knowlton said his real reward is seeing the smiles on people’s faces after leading them on a trek or a bike ride through the park.
Hammad Farooq wants to use his experience as a KFC supervisor to start his own Pakistani-themed fast-food restaurant in Truro, serving delicacies like chicken biryani.
Nour Kojo often moved between Syria and Lebanon before coming to Truro with her family in 2018. She now works as a hairdresser and has a steady stream of clients.