I’m striding along the Halifax waterfront, shoulders hunched against a blustery autumn breeze that’s threatening to toss me into the harbor. Dark, bruised clouds hang heavy across Georges Island, while a ferry, lit by a sudden burst of sunlight, lurches through the fog. I pull my scarf tighter and make a run for the brightly lit Peace by Chocolate store, its warm and welcoming interior glowing like the North Star.
Inside, amid the rows of glass cases displaying truffles and fondants, I find a wall of chocolate bars dedicated to the global protection of children, and another filled with ‘Pride’ bars advocating the LGBTQ+ community flag. With the tagline, ‘One Peace Won’t Hurt,’ the hand-crafted collection includes everything from creamy white chocolate with blueberry to gold chocolate with hazelnut.
But it’s the portrait of chocolatier and founder Isameddin (Isam) Hadhad that I’m drawn to. Painted by Syrian-Canadian artist Houssam Alloum, the image is a portal to a story that began in Damascus, Syria. A story about peace, hope and the human spirit.