On January 15 in Halifax, Tareq Hadhad, the founder and CEO of his family’s Antigonish-based chocolate company, Peace by Chocolate, took the Oath of Citizenship.

ANTIGONISH: A local chocolatier says he couldn’t imagine in his wildest dreams that he would win a pair of prestigious awards recognizing the positive impact he’s made on his community.

Tareq Hadhad, the founder and CEO of the Antigonish-based Peace by Chocolate, has been named one of this year’s RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners.

“For an immigrant coming here to Nova Scotia, certainly in a small town like Antigonish to be recognized on the national stage as one of the Top 25 Canadian immigrants is a big honour, for me, my family and everyone in the town who made the integration process as successful as possible,” he told The Reporter. “I’m really grateful for all of them.”

Hadhad, who only arrived in Canada less than five years ago, shares the prestigious honour with individuals who have been in Canada for much longer.

“In Nova Scotia we have a lot of opportunities, we have a lot of resources, we have a lot of good and friendly people here – which are really some of our key success factors,” he said. “May we continue to have our country enriched, strengthened, and nourished by big dreams and limitless passions of everyone seeking a better life and a brighter future.”

Hadhad, who was the only Nova Scotian on the list, also received additional recognition by being awarded the fifth annual RBC Entrepreneur Award.

“It’s just a huge recognition for the contributions that immigrants do to this country and really for me to be winning that award as well adds to the celebration,” the former Syrian refugee said. “I think it just sends that message not only to Canadians, but to the world, that Canada is doing things right in terms of the integration for all the immigrant entrepreneurs and offering them the right resources to succeed in a short period of time.”

Hadhad said during these challenging times, these prestigious national awards remain a symbol for diversity, resilience, and the importance of coming together as Canadians.

“By winning the two awards, I am representing the three places that make me who I am,” he said. “Nova Scotia, my home of birth, Syria, and my home by choice, Canada, and the values that we stand for by being the nation of freedom, compassion and opportunity.”