Peace by Chocolate promotes global peace with chocolate
What would you do if your whole world changed in an instant? If a war destroyed the business your family built? Tareq Hadhad and his family had to answer this question when they fled Syria in 2012 after a bomb destroyed their chocolate factory. His response? Create Peace by Chocolate, a chocolate factory in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where the Hadhad family settled in 2016.
“We were looking for a destination for my family where they can find peace, they can start their life again,” Hadhad recounts as he describes the harrowing journey from refugee in Lebanon to newly minted Canadian citizen. They chose Canada “after we heard that this country is very well known for its diversity, multiculturalism, respecting others from all across the world, and having great support for those who come to start over.”
While they thought they would find a home in one of the big cities, they arrived in the small town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. “There is a group in Antigonish called SAFE [Syrian Antigonish Families Embrace] that is a sponsorship group led by the community members who came together and who have done fundraising … to bring a Syrian family to the town,” explains Hadhad. “Even the government didn’t know which family would land in Antigonish. But we were the lucky ones.”
The community welcomed Hadhad and his family with open arms. They taught the family how to navigate this new culture. In response to receiving this warm welcome, Hadhad wanted to give back. So his family started making chocolate again. “All they really cared about was that we were trying to rebuild our lives again in Canada,” explains Hadhad. “Starting the chocolate factory again in Antigonish was our own way to thank the town.”
Their first factory was a shed in 2016. Members of the community renovated it and fixed it up. From there, Hadhad grew the family business. “Figuring out the new culture for business in this country after arriving from a completely different culture in the east was difficult,” Hadhad mentions. “I don’t have business education; I’m a physician, I’m a cardiac surgeon. For me, running the family business again was not a challenge, but an opportunity.”
Now two years later, Peace by Chocolate is a well-known Canadian chocolate factory, even mentioned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his United Nations speech.
Their unique blend of Syrian flavours with local ingredients contributes to their success. They develop new products every second month. “We make sure we are unique and remarkable in every single product we create,” Hadhad states. “Our chocolate always supports fair trade, to make sure it’s a happy product from the source of the cocoa beans to the consumer enjoying the product.”
The Hadhad family places great import on spreading the message of peace. “We left a war zone and we travelled all this way. Nothing could make my family members happier than being together and being involved. We have built something; we feel that it is something that makes us all proud.”
Still, Hadhad hopes to one day return to medicine. “After I achieve my goal of making Peace by Chocolate one of the top five chocolate companies in the country, I will definitely go back to medicine. Medicine is my passion.”