He Lost Almost Everything in Syria. In Canada, His New Neighbors Are Helping Him Start Over.

Thanks to his new friends, Issam Hadhad has rebuilt his chocolate-making business.

Isaam Hadhad with Frank Gallant in the chocolate factory. Jonathan Keijser/Courtesy of the Atlantic

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

In Syria, Issam Hadhad ran one of the largest chocolate factories in the Middle East. But after a bombing destroyed his factory, Hadhad and his family fled to a refugee camp in Lebanon, eventually gaining asylum in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2016. Without money or English-language skills, rebuilding his business was difficult, but he started small, baking sweets and selling them at the farmers market.

Locals noticed and soon came to Hadhad’s support. His new neighbors—including carpenters, plumbers, and electricians—helped him build Peace by Chocolate, Hadhad’s Canadian chocolate factory.

One of Hadhad’s new friends is Frank Gallant, who often works beside him in the factory. Their unlikely friendship is the subject of a new 12-minute film, Brothers, recently published in The Atlantic. “It’s harder for us to have a deeper conversation about life…versus just doing an activity,” says Gallant, but they’re learning to communicate.

“Frank and I, how we interact…it’s like two brothers. He encouraged me to live,” says Hadhad. “If all people walked together as if they had one heart, there’s hope for the future.”

Recharge is a weekly newsletter full of stories that will energize your inner hellraiser. Sign up at the bottom of the story.

  • An innocent man. Alfred Dewayne Brown spent nearly a decade on death row for murder. But in 2015, a judge tossed out his conviction after discovering that an assistant district attorney hid evidence supporting Brown’s claims. Though he was released, Brown was never declared innocent, which prevented him from receiving compensation for the wrongful conviction. Thanks to a new district attorney reopening his case, Brown was finally exonerated earlier this month, allowing him to receive as much as $80,000 for each year he spent in prison. “It’s been a long, long road for him,” said Brown’s lawyer, Neal Manne, “and it feels really good that the district attorney is now on his side.” (Texas Tribune)
  • Beating the trolls. Seventy-five thousand people have joined a Swedish Facebook Group that fights trolls with love. The group, called #jagärhär, Swedish for “I am here,” aims to do what governments and tech companies have not: change the conversation. Members enter comment sections that have turned toxic and leave positive notes; other times they support people who have been harassed. “We want the comment section to look more like society and the way to do this is enable people to speak and participate,” says Mina Dennert, the group’s founder. (The Guardian)
  • Love and nature. One of DC’s oldest hiking clubs is proving to be quite the matchmaker. Thanks to the Wanderbirds Hiking Club, at least 10 members have met through the hikes and gone off to marry. One of the couples, Marsha Johnston and Emil Friberg, even brought the club’s trail-marking red arrows to their wedding ceremony. Friberg said another club member encouraged him to ask out Johnston after seeing them together, saying, “Just do it!” So he did. (Washington Post)

This article has been updated. 

More Mother Jones reporting on Recharge

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate