A Syrian refugee has become a Canadian citizen today and a celebration was held at Halifax’s Pier 21. Tareq Hadhad is the founder of Peace by Chocolate, a company out of Antigonish, N.S. that has been quite successful.
Tareq Hadhad was elated to be called up to officially receive his Canadian citizenship. “It’s the biggest day of my life, full of emotions, absolutely,” Hadhad said following the ceremony. He is the first of his family to become a Canadian citizen.
“It’s certainly an honour, I feel that I belong to this amazing nation. I feel that I am free and I will go out of this place so proudly saying that I am so honoured to be a Canadian at this moment.”
Hadhad will waste no time integrating himself into the Canadian culture, saying a top priority is to pick up “a double-double with a toonie and [fly] to watch a hockey game on the weekend.”
Making chocolate is a part of Hadhad’s family history as his father, Assam Hadhad, made chocolate back in Damascus for two decades, employing 30 people in his factory according to CBC. The factory was tragically bombed amid the turmoil and warfare.
Prior to the outbreak of war the company used to ship specialty treats across the Middle East.
Hadhad’s family settled in Antigonish in 2016 after fleeing from Syria. They opened Peace by Chocolate —which ships products throughout the country and employs about 55 people, including other refugees as well.
Marco Mendicino, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship spoke at Wednesday’s ceremony, “With all the complexities in the world, I think this is just a wonderful silver lining and positive story. It demonstrates that immigration is a true hallmark of our history, but also the key to our future,”
Hadhad passed his Canadian citizenship test with a perfect score, a fact he proudly shared via Twitter. The post went viral, even attracting attention and congratulations from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Lucille Harper of Antigonish was instrumental in bringing the Hadhads to Canada. She was thrilled to see their successful immigration story. “It’s just all we could ever really hope for,” she said.
Hadhad’s family has applied for Canadian citizenship and they are hoping to be able to take the test within the next couple of months. Alaa Hadhad, Tareq’s sister said it would mean the world to her and her children to join Tareq’s family as Canadian citizens.