Montreal businessman among victims of Beirut explosion

By | August 4, 2020

MONTREAL — A Montreal businessman was killed in Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut, CTV News has confirmed.

Nazar Najarian was among the victims of the blast, according to his daughter. Najarian split his time between Lebanon, where he helped lead a political party, and Montreal, where he founded an import-export company.

“He was just the most amazing father,” his daughter, who is in Montreal, told CTV News in a brief interview.

“He’s a brilliant man, I’m telling you,” said a friend of Najarian’s, Lamia Charlebois, who got to know him in Montreal.

“We lost somebody larger than life. We lost somebody that’s extremely important in terms of his contribution.”

Najarian’s wife was with him in Beirut but was not injured in the explosion, their daughter said. The cause of the explosion, which killed at least 60 people and injured over 2,700, is still unknown.

Najarian grew up in Beirut and was Armenian, said Charlebois. He was the eldest sibling in a family of five. Charlebois said he was a “dear friend” and she also interviewed him once for a project of her own. 

Najarian was secretary general of a Christian Democratic political party in Lebanon called Kataeb.

On his Facebook page, which lists Montreal as his city of residence, he often posted about his political activity during trips to Lebanon, including last week, when he posted a smiling photo after meetings with party officials in two towns. 

Charlebois said that after moving to Canada about seven years ago, Najarian quickly earned the respect of people in the local Lebanese community while also staying deeply involved in his work in Lebanon.

“He’s an amazing man,” she said. “He has integrity, honesty, decency, patriotism. He was a true Lebanese. He was also a very good Canadian.”

He and his wife decided to move to Canada “for stability and for a better future for their children,” said Charlebois.

According to Najarian’s LinkedIn page, he founded his Montreal-based company, Tetran Holding Co., in January 2013.

It focused on introducing “emerging European luxury brands and high-end products to the North American markets,” he wrote. Among other projects, Najarian became a franchisee of La Cure Gourmande, the Provence-inspired gourmet food shop.

Najarian wrote that he was fluent in four languages and held degrees in marketing studies, accounting and commercial sciences. He also taught marketing to university students.

In Montreal, he regularly attended a local church, put his kids through university — both are in their twenties and studied locally, Charlebois said — and grew the businesses, hiring new employees along the way.

On his LinkedIn page, Najarian also said he was a former volleyball player, an avid reader and a nature lover.

He got involved in Lebanese politics when he was only around 16 years old, at the onset of the country’s civil war in 1975, Charlebois said.

“At the beginning of the war in Lebanon, in 1975, they believed deeply in the fact that their involvement would save Lebanon,” she said.

She said that many considered him heroic “for his contribution during the war and his constant, constant fighting” in Lebanese civic life.

“Fighting is not about weapons only — [it’s] lobbying, being a spokesperson, speaking out loud, denouncing what’s wrong and promoting what’s right,” she said.

Recently, she said, his trips back to Lebanon had become more frequent, though his home base was still Montreal.

The balancing act worked, she said, because “he has a very good wife and kids. They’re a team. I just can’t imagine what they’re going through right now.”

Lebanese media reported that Najarian was in his office in Beirut when the explosion happened.

Montreal’s large Lebanese community is reeling, Charlebois said.

“The whole community now is busy finding out who’s dead and who’s alive, and to be there for those [who lost people],” she said.

– With files from The Associated Press

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