ANTIGONISH, N.S. — A Canadian chocolate company founded by Syrian refugees has produced its first chocolate bar — and given it an Indigenous name.
Peace by Chocolate of Antigonish, N.S., revealed Wednesday its new milk chocolate and hazelnut bar is to be called Wantaqo’ti (pronounced Wan-tahk-oo-di), the Mi’kmaq word for peace.
“Nothing is nobler than spreading our message in the mother tongue of this land we are on and we call home,” founder Tareq Hadhad said via email.
He said it is his company’s mission to translate the family’s concept of peace to all Canadians, starting with the Mi’kmaq of his home province.
He said he and his company felt the need to be part of the “noble process” of truth and reconciliation so they reached out to Mi’kmaq leaders to help translate and guide them during the process.
Hadhad said other versions of the bar will be sold using the Arabic, French and Mandarin words for peace.
“Peace is beautiful in every language,” Hadhad said.
He hopes to sell bars in 20 languages, including other Indigenous languages, by the end of the month. Some proceeds will go to local and national Indigenous organizations as well as the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games, to be held in Antigonish.
The bars will be available for $4.99 online and at Atlantic Canada Sobeys stores next week and Ontario in two weeks.
The company is also working on developing wrappers profiling leaders of global peace movements. They will be available in two weeks, he said.
Peace by Chocolate has until now mostly sold boxes of chocolates.
An aspiring physician, Hadhad said he abandoned his studies and fled to Lebanon with several family members after a 2012 bombing destroyed his father’s chocolate factory in Syria.
The family spent three years at a refugee camp, then settled in Antigonish in early 2016, as Canada accepted a wave of more than 25,000 Syrians.
“When we came here as newcomers to this country, we really wanted to support this country to grow and prosper,” he said.