The Hadhad Family

Corey LeBlanc/The Casket

Making a New Home

Except for the Mi'kmaq, the ancestors of everyone in Nova Scotia came here from somewhere else. That makes most of us newcomers in a sense. Sometimes our ancestors journeyed here centuries ago; sometimes the memories of a previous homeland are more fresh. In the end, it does not matter how long someone has lived in the province — what counts is how they contribute to their new homeland. The Hadhad family, who came to Antigonish as recent refugees, are perhaps the best known of the newest Nova Scotians.

Their story begins in Damascus, Syria, where the Hadhad family operated a chocolate factory that once was one of the biggest in the Middle East. Syria, however, descended into civil war, with violence touching all aspects of society, especially the civilian population. The Hadhad factory was blown apart by a missile in 2011. The family fled to Lebanon, but were confined to a refugee camp, unable to work.

Early in 2016, the Government of Canada began bringing in large numbers of Syrian refugees. Most ended up in the big cities, but people in some small Nova Scotia communities also asked to welcome refugees. Tareq Hadhad was the first to come to Antigonish, followed by his father, mother and three siblings. They began working at the trade they knew well: making chocolates. At first, it had to be small-scale production, not having a factory. The Hadhads started selling what they called "Peace by Chocolate" at local farmers' markets. People liked the product and wanted more. Then the Prime Minister of Canada shared the family's story with the world and demand shot up. More family members arrived in Antigonish. The Hadhad family found a larger space to produce their chocolates, hired people beyond the family to help out.

The last word goes to he Hadhad family: "When our family was invited into Canada and become full Canadian citizens our dreams came true. With the support of our new community Antigonish and the people of Nova Scotia we have rebuilt our chocolate company and are once again doing the work we love."