Talking inclusion, diversity, and growth

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Talking inclusion, diversity, and growth
Pictured from left-to-right are Tareq Hadhad of Peace by Chocolate, Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement and Ren Navarro of Beer Diversity at the kitchen table talk organized by Mayor Clement on Thursday, November 14, 2019 (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – Mayor Bernadette Clement held a kitchen table talk at the Nav Centre on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 focusing on the themes of inclusion, diversity, and growth to a packed lecture hall.

Invited to facilitate the discussion on these themes was new Canadian and former Syrian refugee Tareq Hadhad, who’s family started the Peace by Chocolate company and Ren Navarro of Beer Diversity, a company modeled on promoting how beer and diversity can go hand-in-hand.

Navarro consults with restaurants and shows them different ways in promoting diversity.

“You always want to make something welcoming to people,” she said. “When you acknowledge diversity in people through the diversity of beer it is welcoming.”

She said that she often encouraged clients to connect with local charities and would encourage diversity by bringing in diverse members of her industry, female craft brewers for example.

Hadhad, who’s father started a chocolate factory in Syria, came to Canada as a refugee after his family business was destroyed during the Syrian Civil War.

He settled in Antigonish, NS, and explained how his new small town community helped support his family’s new business, Peace by Chocolate.

Hadhad said that his goal for the evening was to demonstrate ways that small towns can support growth through embracing diversity.

“It’s all about reflecting about our experience in the small town of Antigonish, NS,” Hadhad explained. “I want to talk about what can be copied in Cornwall so that newcomers can be embraced and supported everywhere.”

Hadhad told the story of how he community of Antigonish donated many items to his new home in the community.

“They helped us make our first factory in 2016, and through that we have become an international phenomenon,” Hadhad said.

Peace by Chocolate is distributed nationally by Sobey’s and they will be expanding into the United States in 2020.

Mayor Clement explained that her goal for the kitchen table talk on Thursday night was that people listen to the personal narratives of Navarro and Hadhad and learn about growth through inclusion and diversity.

“I want people to think about Cornwall and the surrounding area and how we can attract more development through diversity,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Hadhad had been the keynote speaker at the Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference.

Share this article