A sweet dream has come true for one Syrian refugee who has opened a tiny chocolate factory in Nova Scotia.

At first, he had thought he had lost everything.

As a vicious civil war raged around them, Isam Hadhad made the painful decision to shutter the Damascus chocolate factory he had operated for 30 years and flee his country with his family.

“It was a very hard decision for the whole family to leave the country,” Isam’s son, Tareq, told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. “We didn’t expect to come to the other part of the world.”

After leaving Syria in 2013, the Hadhads moved into a refugee camp in Lebanon. The family’s future seemed bleak and uncertain until their application to relocate to Canada was approved.

“When we arrived here finally, we really realized that this is the country of opportunities,” Tareq beams. “The communities here are so welcoming!”

Tareq, whose medical studies were interrupted by the conflict, arrived in Canada less than a year ago. He settled in the sleepy town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. His family soon followed his 8,000 km journey.

Peace by Chocolate, which opened last week, was borne from Isam’s contribution to a recent community potluck.

“They gave us super huge positive feedback about our chocolates,” Tareq reminisces as his father sits beside him. “We just gave them like one hundred pieces of chocolate. It was all gone by five minutes!”

Delighted with the treats, the community helped Isam build a new business.

Now working from a tiny shed, the veteran chocolatier plans to marry Syrian and Canadian flavours to create – just like his family – something entirely new.

Basking in sweet success, Tareq urges other refugees to stay positive.

“There is always hope in the frustration,” he says.

With files from CTV News Channel