Lions, and barbers, and bears, oh my!

Brand new barber shop in town gets an unexpected visitor

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Hassan ‘Sammy’ Assaf and his wife Amal Sleiman moved to Slave Lake from Edmonton at the beginning of August to open LionsDen Barbershop.

On August 21, a young bear entered their shop.

Sleiman grew up in Brazil and Assaf was born and raised in Edmonton. Bears aren’t a normal part of their lives.

“I have never seen one (in the wild) before,” Sleiman says. “I hope it’s going to be the last time.”

“I’m a city-slicker, not sure what to do,” Assaf says.

It was just before lunch, Assaf says. Sleiman drove up to the barber shop. He went out to talk with her about lunch, leaving the front door of the barbershop open.

There was a bear across the street. They were excited and taking some pictures.

The bear crossed the street. Assaf jumped into the car. The bear walked along the strip-mall poking his nose at closed doors.

Sleiman told Assaf to go run and close the door.

“I was too scared,” Assaf says.

It was just a little bear, he clarified, but still I wasn’t going out there.

The bear went into the shop.

A passerby “closed him in which was a bad idea,” Assaf says.

“Trying to open the door, the bear got stressed when they closed the door.” Sleiman says. He ripped up a sign on the door and pushed on the other windows.

No serious damage was done, but one of the first things the bear did was poop on the middle of the floor.

He got up on the table by the barber’s mirror, on the front desk.

They called 911 which connected them with the RCMP and animal rescue.

One of the constables is a customer at the shop. Constable Corbeil entered the shop with a gun, “he was prepared for the worse.”

They opened the door to get the bear out, but he didn’t budge.

The guy who closed the door threw pizza in from Alimo’s to try and lure the bear out but he didn’t budge.

Police tried open the side door, but the bear wasn’t going anywhere with so many people out front.

“The guy who threw pizza into the shop helped clean up the poop,” Assaf said. He works at Yamaha across the street and is a real nice guy.

Eventually, the bear left the shop and climbed a tree by the RBC down the block and across the street. A few hours later, as far as Assaf and Sleiman knew the authorities hadn’t caught the bear.

“It’s the most interesting thing that happened in my life,” Assaf says.

A few hours later, he was cutting hair, with the door closed despite the heat. Sleiman was also there helping customers.

A bear’s tale in photos. A bear goes to the mall…
He tries to buy pizza, but the door is shut…
A bear walks into a barbershop… Photo series courtesy of Amal Sleiman.
A young bear on a barber’s table. Photo courtesy of Mikey Dicks.

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