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Tareq Hadhad challenged people to imagine the unimaginable, as he told his personal story of loss while recounting living in a refugee camp.

The owner of the Antigonish-based business, Peace By Chocolate, accompanied by his father Assam and mother Shahenaz, recently spoke at an event in Halifax hosted by the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council and Atlantic Central Credit Unions.

The young man originally from Damascas, Syria, detailed how his family’s perfectly normal, happy life changed overnight as civil war gripped his home country destroying all they had worked to build.

He spoke with great pride about the family’s chocolatier business, once a thriving enterprise in Damascas employing 30 people, many of whom fled Syria with the family in 2013 to a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Then, he shared joy about being the first of his family to arrive in Canada in late 2015, followed soon by others, where they began to quickly rebuild their lives.

Surrounded by strong community support in their new hometown of Antigonish, the refugees turned entrepreneurs opened the now nationally acclaimed Peace By Chocolate in August 2016 in a small shed built by volunteers.

And they are already in expansion mode.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared the family’s story at a UN summit on refugees and stopped by the newly opened chocolatiers in November for a private visit congratulating them on their early success in Canada.

The Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce has invited Hadhad to share his family’s touching story at a lunch and learn on Februay 1, 12 p.m., at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro.

This event is one of several the chamber will host during the next few weeks. Divert Nova Scotia is hosting a networking social for chamber members on January 19 at its location, 35 Commercial St., Suite 400, beginning at 4:30 p.m. They invite members to learn about the many services they offer and recycling programs underway across the province.

On January 27, the chamber will host its second annual curling bonspiel at the Truro Curling Club beginning at 1 p.m. Beginners and experienced curlers are welcome to participate in this fun-themed day. A short introduction to the game will be held prior to the first draw so join us for an afternoon of relaxed entertainment as a team or individual.

James Taylor, Commissionaires Nova Scotia regional manager, will be the special guest speaker at the January 25 TD Business Builders series workshop discussing business security. This session will be held from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., is free for members and a light breakfast is served.

For more information about the benefits of chamber membership or to register for events contact the chamber office at 902-895-6328, email oa@tcchamber.ca, or visit our website www.trurocolchesterchamber.com.

Sherry Martell is the executive director of the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce. She may be reached by email at ed@tcchamber.ca.