The value of hard work and the immigrant experience

Hard work. There’s just no substitution for it. And, as a result of hard work, a family business in Antigonish is looking to double its workforce from 25 people to 50.

Of course, for the Hadhad family, the value of hard work was not something they were focusing on a few years ago, as the family was putting all its energies into surviving the Syrian Civil War. The conflict is responsible for one of the largest refugee crisis in history.

The conflict resulted in more than half of Syria’s pre-war population (22 million) needing humanitarian assistance. To get specific about things, the United Nations identified 13.5 million Syrians as being in need of assistance, with six million people internally displaced within Syria and five million refugees having fled the country.

For sake of perspective, the number of Syrian refugees is more than double the total number of people (approximately 2.4 million) living in Atlantic Canada.

Through a lengthy process of vetting — a process that included the hard work and even harder fundraising of folks in Antigonish, committed to the cause of offering refugees a second chance — the Hadhads settled in Antigonish. The first Hadhad to arrive at Stanfield International Airport was Tareq Hadhad, the oldest son of the family.

He arrived in December of 2015, and following him were the other family members. Once in Antigonish, the Hadhads started practicing the family trade, making chocolate. Peace By Chocolate was born.

Last week, it was announced that the local company was poised to double its workforce from 25 to 50 people. What an accomplishment for a family that was literally fighting for survival a few years ago!

The management of Peace by Chocolate, it should be noted, has acquitted itself as great corporate citizens, in addition to doing a fine job of creating employment. During the wildfires that devastated Fort McMurray, the company contributed profits to the Canadian Red Cross’ relief effort for the Albertian city. With that, Peace by Chocolate also showed its support for the gay community by releasing a series of bars celebrating pride.

All of that is wonderful. From the Hadhad’s story of survival to their humanitarian efforts, but let’s not forget how hard this family had to work to master their craft, start a business in a new country, devise a marketing plan, a distribution plan, while putting dozens of folks to work.

Any business that succeeds in rural Nova Scotia is a success story, and a business that enough to employ locals — saving them from having to leave the province for work — is a cause for celebration.

It all begins with hard work.

The one thing we can always control is the effort we give. The Hadhad family put in many long days growing their business to this point of expansion, and now both the family and community will benefit.

It’s interesting to ponder how big Peace by Chocolate will grow, given that several markets are still untapped by the local brand. The chocolates could find a home in the United States, the UK, and the countries of the rest of the world.

Time will tell, and we can be sure the tale will be a sweet one.