Bringing peace to the world, one chocolate at a time


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Peace is such a peaceful word.

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It’s also incredibly deep. As is the story of the Hadhad family, master chocolatiers who once ran one of the most successful chocolate businesses in the Middle East and Europe from their home country of Damascus, Syria, but have were forced to flee in 2012 after their factory was destroyed in a bomb attack. who also destroyed the only world they had ever known.

The Hadhads found themselves refugees in Lebanon, and the only thing of real value they took with them when they left their home were the recipes for their award-winning chocolates. For three years, the united family mourned for what they once had as they lived in a refugee camp with little hope of returning to normal life, let alone putting down roots elsewhere.

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Tareq Hadhad – handout
Tareq Hadhad – handout provided

It was around this time that Tareq Hadhad, the son and eldest brother of the family, began applying to country after country, about 14 in all, in search of safe passage. And every door was closed at the request of his family.

Except one: Canada.

On a freezing winter night, Tareq landed in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, greeted by a group of strangers, happily waving Canadian flags, welcoming signs and hugs of peace.

« And do you think the signs were in both Arabic and English? » Tareq said in a recent phone interview, his voice still marveling at the welcome he had received. “For three years we found ourselves as refugees with little opportunity or hope…when our family was invited to Canada, we had no idea what our life would be like. Canada was a dream come true – the country made our dreams come true.

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Tareq Hadhad lives in winter - document
Tareq Hadhad lives in winter – document provided

« I can tell you it’s a love story between my family and Canada. »

In a huge way. Tareq was the first to arrive, thanks to a scholarship and a private sponsorship program – and he was the first to experience the traditional Canadian winter. “The cold was shocking but in a good way! He didn’t take long to adapt and helped me to integrate.

« Also, winter brings people together. »

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Tareq says that among many other firsts he experienced was « the kindness and compassion of people who opened their hearts and homes to make us feel welcome ». Once the rest of his family arrived, including patriarch Issam Hadhad, the head chocolatier, Tareq set out to rebuild the business and put down roots in a new country.

More than that, with the support of the new family community of Antigonish, if not all Nova Scotians, « we rebuilt our chocolate business and started doing what we loved most: making chocolate » .

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The Hadhad family at the inauguration of the new chocolate factory – supplied
The Hadhad family at the inauguration of the new chocolate factory – supplied Photo by Peace By Chocolate /chocolate peace

Chocolate with a powerful message – the company, officially named Peace By Chocolate, ( was founded in early 2016, with the famous treats first being sold at local farmers’ markets before demand soared. leads to the construction of a new factory to keep pace. orders. The company has grown – and continues to grow with new, additional employees and new varieties. Demand has grown to encompass the globe – and into the stratosphere as Peace by Chocolate has even traveled to space to be enjoyed on the International Space Station.

Many world leaders have received the chocolates, and Tareq, CEO of the company as well as a board member of Invest Nova Scotia and one of Nova Scotia’s most famous philanthropists, is in high demand. as keynote speaker to talk about his experiences.

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Additionally, part of the company’s mandate is to give back, and a portion of chocolate sales go to the Peace on Earth Society, a Nova Scotia-registered organization that donates to peacebuilding projects in the world.

The amount of donations the Hadhad family have made since arriving on Canadian shores is unprecedented – a book on the family’s life is now available. And their story is now told via film, chocolate peacedirected by Jonathan Keijser, a film that strikes a chord as it details the rise of the homesick refugee family to proudly embrace their new lives as Canadians living in Canada.

Peace by Chocolate book cover – supplied
Peace by Chocolate book cover – supplied Photo provided

How faithful was the film to the family’s story? « It’s not a documentary, but the inspiration was taken from what happened to us when we arrived in Canada, » Tarek said. « The film is an amalgamation of several refugee stories as well as my own family’s journey. »

Tareq, who became a Canadian citizen with his family a few years ago, said « 60% of the film is true, but drama was included to give perspective to the story, as well as to tell the story more range of new immigrants to a new country. »

Peace by Chocolate movie – provided
Peace by Chocolate movie – provided Photo provided /chocolate peace

Did he ever think his life would turn out like this? “When we started selling our chocolates at farmers’ markets, we had no idea what it would be like. Now our chocolates are all over the world, sharing the stage with some of the most powerful people on the planet.

“It is beyond our dream. We have Canada to thank.

(The film is available now and celebrated at the Oakville Film and Art Festivals

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