Peace, chocolate and entrepreneurship

This year’s NSCC Student Conference at the Pictou Campus was on the sweet side as they welcomed Tareq Hadhad of Peace by Chocolate.

The Syrian native shared his story with students about his life before the Syrian crisis and how he and his family navigated their way through the system to be accepted into Canada.

Hadhad began telling the story about how his father began making chocolate in 1986 and had grown his company to be one of the largest chocolatiers in the Middle East over the years.

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“In 2002, my father was building an empire of chocolate,” he said. At the time, Hadhad was studying to be a doctor when life in Syria started to become chaotic. When people were taken prisoner, Hadhad and other medical students began to protest peacefully holding flowers and wearing white lab coats. During the protest, six of Hadhad’s friends were killed and he was arrested.

Not long after, Hadhad’s family found themselves hiding for five days in the basement as they heard bombs going off in the distance. It was in 2013 when his father’s factory was bombed.

After migrating out of the country with his family, they eventually were accepted to travel to Canada.

“On December 21 people from Antigonish came to greet me at the airport,” Hadhad said. With the welcoming party standing there with signs bearing his name, Hadhad was overwhelmed and hardly believed that they were all there to welcome him. It was a week later when his family arrived.

Hadhad also had some lessons to share during his speech.

“If you care more about where I am from then who I am, then you’re doing it wrong,” he said. Hadhad also shared how he wanted to continue his father’s tradition of creating chocolate to share.

“Wherever you are in your life there are challenges; the first option is to complain and the second option is to dig down and find solutions and trust me, that works much, much much better.”

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Heather Brimicombe is a Pictou County native and graduate from the University of King's College in Halifax with a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree as well as a combined major in Sustainability. She has previously won a Canadian Communities Newspapers award for a multimedia feature and was part of a team nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalism data award in the investigative category. Photography, art, sports and outdoor activities are all hobbies of hers as well as crafting, and baking.