It’s 3 p.m., your blood sugar hits rock bottom and all you need is a little pick-me-up to get you through the day. Rather than reach for your typical afternoon fare, a Canadian chocolate company wants you to sink your teeth into a bar of chocolate that was created specifically to help uOttawa’s Refugee Hub.
Peace by Chocolate’s Welcome Bar, with its “velvety milk chocolate and vanilla cookie pieces,” is actually manufactured a long way from uOttawa, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. But the goal of the University’s Refugee Hub is close to Peace by Chocolate founder and CEO Tareq Hadhad’s heart.
Originally from Syria, Hadhad and his family lost everything to that country’s war—including their chocolate factory in Damascus, which was destroyed in a bombing. After three years living in a refugee camp, the Hadhads were invited to Canada as part of the wave of Syrian refugees that arrived in 2016. With help from their new community in Antigonish, they were able to rebuild their lives, including their chocolatier business.
“My family received a hand since coming to Canada, so now it is our turn to give back and support all of the organizations helping newcomers resettle and build new lives for themselves in this country,” says Hadhad. “The Refugee Hub is a fine example of the work that is being done to support newcomer families like mine.”
The uOttawa Refugee Hub works to increase protection and rights for refugees by engaging in a variety of research, programming, and partnership initiatives. Over the years, the Hub has helped connect dozens of refugees and refugee sponsor groups with much-needed legal expertise. Its work has had an impact on the Ottawa community, but has also spanned Canada and countries around the world.
“The University of Ottawa Refugee Hub is delighted about this new partnership,” says Jennifer Bond, Founder and Managing Director of the Refugee Hub and law professor at uOttawa. “We both share a similar mission and belief that welcoming newcomers makes this country stronger—plus, who doesn’t love chocolate?”
Peace by Chocolate doesn’t create just any chocolate bars. Theirs are special, wrapped in colourful packaging, each including an inspiring quote about peace. The Welcome Bar is wrapped in vibrant red and features one of two designs: an outline of two people embracing or a silhouette of a young child holding an adult’s hand.
In addition to helping refugees through uOttawa’s Refugee Hub, Hadhad announced earlier this year that by 2022, he plans to hire 50 refugees to work at the company.
“Much like Canada is welcoming people from different walks of life from all over the world,” says Hadhad. “This bar is a fine example of how things that may appear completely opposite upon first glance can actually come together to create something truly special.”