Skip to main content
RBC
Tareq Hadhad and his family lost everything when their business and home were destroyed in the Syrian Civil War. After three years of living as refugees, they came to Canada to rebuild their lives and their business.

“I do not just make chocolate, I make happiness.”

This is the mission that drove Tareq Hadhad’s father when he started his chocolate business in Damascus, Syria in 1986. Resisting the expectation to follow a prescribed path in life, he pursued his passion to become a chocolatier instead. 20 years later, the family was the second-largest chocolate producer and exporter in the Middle East.



In 2011, Tareq was a fourth-year medical student, pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor. Their whole family lived in an apartment building and 25+ people would gather for Saturday night dinners around his grandmother’s giant table. The Hadhad family was prosperous and happy, but all that changed in 2012 when their hometown of Damascus was bombed in the Syrian Civil War and their focus became survival.

In this moving episode of Chatter That Matters, host Tony Chapman chats with Tareq about his life in Syria before the war. Listeners hear him describe his city and his family with wonder and fondness as he recalls life before the war. He describes his father’s unlikely pursuit of chocolate making and how he wooed his future wife — Tareq’s mother — with his chocolate and the power of creating happiness in others.

When they fled the country in the war, Tareq and his family survived in a Lebanese refugee camp for three years. One day, his mother revealed she was simply counting down to her death — that’s when Tareq knew they had to switch gears from surviving to rebuilding. After a cab driver told him about opportunities in Canada, Tareq applied to immigrate. He and his family were invited to settle here.

What happened next is a remarkable testament to the humanity of the Canadian people and the resilience of the Hadhad family. Tareq describes how within months they had started a new chocolate business, which they called Peace By Chocolate. With support from their Antigonish, Nova Scotia community, Peace By Chocolate thrived, even gaining national and international attention when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gifted boxes of Peace By Chocolate to Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and mentioned Tareq’s family in a speech to the UN.

Today, Tareq Hadhad couldn’t be more grateful to be a Canadian citizen. He is the recipient of RBC’s Top 25 Immigrant Award and Entrepreneur of the Year award and was selected by Google as the National Hero Case in 2018. Later in 2022, a film based on the Hadhad family: Peace By Chocolate — The Film will be released.

Tareq is a sought-after speaker, sharing his family’s story as well as insights about entrepreneurship, and spreading his message of gratitude, inclusion and the power of goodness and positivity. “We are all newcomers at some point in our life,” he tells listeners.

Tony Chapman created the Chatter That Matters podcast to counter the storm of negativity and impossibility with true stories of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. He chats with Olympians, Advocates, Celebrities, Leaders, and people who battled what seemed like insurmountable odds.

In doing, listeners hear life lessons that inspire all of us to do more and to be more, to help us get to where we need, want and deserve to go. RBC is the presenting sponsor.

Subscribe to Chatter that Matters wherever you get your podcasts or go here: https://www.chatterthatmatters.ca/podcasts

  • Newstalk 1010, Toronto
  • CFRA 580 Ottawa
  • CJAD 800 Montreal
  • CJBK 1290 London
  • Newstalk 610 St. Catharine’s
  • CKLW 800 Windsor
  • CKFR 1150 Kelowna
  • CFAX 1070 AM Victoria
  • Or Fridays at 8 p.m. on BNN Bloomberg CFTE 1410 Vancouver

More from the Chatter That Matters:

Leslie Ehm Unleashes Why Your Swagger Matters

Read Next

Say it is so! Mitch Joel says your Future is Now

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: One of the First Female Navigators in the Canadian Air Force Flies in the Face of a Convention

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Joe Foster, Co-founder of Reebok on Starting a Business on a Shoestring

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Entrepreneur Extraordinaire Jim Estill on his Habits for Success

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: A Knock on the Door Knocks Chanda Furney Over

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: TV Stars and Parents Sarah & Bryan Baeumler on How they Stay Cyber-aware

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Anthony Lacavera on his Unfinished Mission to Save Canadians Money

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Dr. Alika Lafontaine on the healthcare we need

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Would You Wake Up at 4am Every Day to Feed Mind, Body & Soul?

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Shipping a Mattress in a Box was a Big Idea. How About a One-Bedroom House?

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Carey Nieuwhof on Building Community

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: David Kincaid on Branding, Business & Beer

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Legendary Jeanne Beker on why passion & pursuit are a dreamer’s greatest asset.

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Steve Tappin Taps into Leadership to Save Our World

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Reverend Dr. Gordon Postill on his astonishing calling & a life reclaimed

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Sammer Haq is Building Bridges to Help Unite in Communities

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Susan Cain Talks about her Runaway Bestseller ‘Quiet’

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Comedian James Mullinger is Laughing the Canadian Dream

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Sarah Stein Greenberg on Why your Creativity & Curiosity Matter Most

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer Celebrates Canada in a Big, (Yet Miniature) Way

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Phil Fontaine on Truth & Reconciliation

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Celebrating Indigenous History Month

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Ed Hajim’s Remarkable Journey from Foster Care to Giving Millions Back to Those in Need.

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Amber Mac on the Bright Side of Disruption & the Dark Side of Technology

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: How the 1972 Summit Series United a Country and Brought the World A Little Closer

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Nectari Charitakis Turns Family Loss into a Gain for Other Seniors

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: At the Launch of the Founder’s Journey, Bryan Baeumler Shares his own Entrepreneurial Path

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Carl Dixon, Iconic Canadian Rocker, on Music & Recovery

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: A Spring Spotlight on Mental Health

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Neill Dixon on Canadian Music Week Turning 40

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Medellín Cartel Infiltrator Robert Mazur Takes Listeners Deep Undercover

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Dr. Sylvia Earle, TIME Magazine’s First Hero of the Planet

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Hollywood Fixer Ori Spado Shares Stories of his Life in Crime & Going Legit

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Dwayne Matthews Shares his Bold Ideas for Teaching Children

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Life Lessons and Branding Secrets from Apple’s Brand Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: A-List Angels, Cash Kings & Hip Hop Billionaires — Zack Greenburg Shares the Inside Scoop

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: A Cure Matters: How a Hail Mary Gave Dr. Fajgenbaum a Shot at Overtime

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o on the Benefits and Impact of Fairtrade

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Henry’s CEO Gillian Stein on Disclosing her own Mental Illness

Read Next

Chatter That Matters: Bryan and Jennifer Irwin on the Fragility of Time & the Power of Family

Read Next