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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

‘Canadians sacrificed so much to protect my right to vote’: Refugee casts ballot in first federal election

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TORONTO — A well-known Syrian refugee who became a chocolatier in Nova Scotia is celebrating after voting for the first time in a federal election.

Tareq Hadhad posted a video to Twitter on Monday where he said this was his first time voting in a Canadian federal election.

“This is a big moment and I’d been waiting for it and I will cherish this memory forever,” he said in the video.

“I’m absolutely proud to know that my vote makes a difference. It’s so rewarding and I voted because Canadians sacrificed so much to protect my right to vote. So I encourage all of you to get out and vote as early as you can. Thank you Canada for giving me this amazing moment.”

In an interview with CTV News Channel on Tuesday, Hadhad said he couldn’t sleep the night before we was scheduled to vote because he was too excited.

“It’s been absolutely amazing to know that I have this amazing privilege,” he said. “We should not take that for granted, because people around the world are suffering for this privilege.”

Hadhad and his family came to Canada in 2016 after bombs destroyed his chocolate factory in Syria. Hadhad started rebuilding his chocolate company in Antigonish, N.S., only a few weeks after arriving in Canada and began the business under the name “Peace by Chocolate.”

Peace by Chocolate hires newcomers to Canada and local residents to create the treats that are then shipped around the world. A portion of each purchase goes toward “peace-building projects” around the world and in Canada.

“I’m here not only to contribute, but to create jobs and be part of this amazing nation that we pride ourselves with,” Hadhad said.

Hadhad became a Canadian citizen in January 2020 and voted in the Nova Scotia provincial election earlier this summer, but this is the first election where he was able to vote federally.

“When I came to Canada, I swore that I would use this freedom (to vote), because it’s not only my right, it’s my privilege,” he said.

As for who he voted for, Hadhad would not disclose which party, but said he voted for a platform that cares a lot about climate change and immigration.

A very big moment: I voted for the first time in a Canadian federal election and I am so proud it

I came to Canada 5 and a half years ago as a refugee. Today, as a proud citizen, I voted because a lot of Canadians have sacrificed so much to protect my right to vote #Elxn44 pic.twitter.com/SRFO5guTnY

— Tareq Hadhad (@TareqHadhad) September 13, 2021

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