Assam Hadhad, a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada last year, displays a tray of chocolates at his shop, Peace by Chocolate, in Antigonish, N.S. on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. CEO Tareq Hadhad has plans to hiring more refugees over the next three years. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

‘They come here to contribute’: Syrian chocolatier to hire, mentor refugee

Peace by Chocolate of Antigonish, N.S., has committed to hiring 50 refugees by 2022

A one-time Syrian refugee who founded a thriving Nova Scotia chocolate company has announced plans to hire and mentor other refugees.

Peace by Chocolate of Antigonish, N.S., has committed to hiring 50 refugees by 2022, and to mentor 10 refugee-run start-ups over the next few years.

The now-famous company was founded by the Hadhad family, who fled their home in war-torn Damascus in 2012. They arrived in Nova Scotia with next to nothing in 2016.

The company was founded shortly after and quickly found success, bolstered by high-profile shout outs like one from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an address to the United Nations.

The family’s remarkable story has been told around the world.

Tareq Hadhad, CEO of the company, said Peace by Chocolate aims to give back to the country that welcomed his family when so many nations were closing their borders to the Syrian plight.

Now he plans to expand on that vision by giving back to other refugees looking to start new lives — as Canadians did for his family when they needed it most.

TWO YEARS LATER: Most Syrian refugees settling well in B.C., report says

“They (refugees) come here to contribute, they come here to give back to the community, and as a family that lost everything in the world we know how they feel,” Hadhad said in an interview.

“Being a refugee is not a choice, it’s not a decision, it’s not a life goal. These people are fleeing their homes because of war, because of persecution. It is substantial and it’s the responsibility for everyone to do his role in supporting these newcomers to Canada.”

Hadhad said the roles on offer will include positions in production, sales, and senior management, nurturing the skills and experience refugees bring with them.

Hadhad’s father, Assam, ran a chocolate business in Damascus for decades but it was destroyed in a 2012 bombing.

Many of the jobs will be located at new facilities planned for different parts of the country as Peace By Chocolate expands, with locations still being finalized.

Hadhad said he hopes other Canadian businesses will follow his lead and support newcomers.

The chocolatier added that most Canadians have the generosity of Indigenous people to thank for their successes in Canada.

“Everyone when they came here, they received a hand, and now it’s the turn for all these settled Canadians to help,” he said.

“We want to support other refugees like our community supported us.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

Police investigating felling of old cedars at Cottonwood Lake

One of the cedars was 300 to 450 years old

Castlegar non-profit’s stolen van located

Kootenay Society for Community Living’s van was stolen May 14.

Interior Health study offers take-home drug testing kits to spot fentanyl

Interior Health to evaluate safety of at home drug testing kits aimed at reducing fentanyl overdoses

Kootenay Columbia adopts $48-million school budget

Kootenay Columbia trustees adopted the 2019/2020 budget on May 2

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

Most Read