Meet the Working Stronger Conference Speakers

Tareq Hadhad is telling his story. He was a Syrian refugee and now living his new life with his entrepreneurial family in Canada’s east coast. He is the founder and CEO of Peace by Chocolate, the recipient of Start Up Canada’s National Newcomer Entrepreneur Award, named one of the Top 25 Immigrants in The Maritimes and selected by Google as the National Hero Case for 2018, and was awarded RBC’s top Immigrant Award and Entrepreneur of the Year in 2020. All of this has happened since Tareq’s arrival on Canada’s East Coast in December 2015 as a Syrian-Canadian newcomer.

In 2012 the Hadhad’s home and factory that housed the family chocolate-making business were destroyed which forced them to seek safety in other countries. A former medical student at Damascus University and long-time peacekeeping advocate, Tareq joined medical relief efforts after arriving in Lebanon. A new life began when Tareq and his family were welcomed to Canada on a community-based sponsorship. 

Passionate about peace and entrepreneurship, his family relaunched the family business to recreate the chocolates they once exported across the Middle East and their story turned into and international inspiring phenomenon.

Tareq and his family have a focus on job creation, utilizing a network of local community members and refugees from across Nova Scotia and Canada to help support the local economy. Now that their chocolates are distributed across Canada they look to offer more employment opportunities as their business grows.

In September 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened his speech to the United Nations Leaders’ Summit on Refugees detailing the family’s success story. In January 2020, Tareq became a Canadian citizen, an honour he says is the greatest of his life. The book Peace by Chocolate, by Jon Tattrie was released in October 2020. The book outlines the remarkable journey of the Hadhad family from Syria to Canada and has become a best seller. In June 2021 we see the release of Peace by Chocolate, the movie. 

Tareq has spoken at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Conference, TEDx events, Chambers of Commerce Dinners, keynote presentations in Jamaica and London England and spoken to several corporate and government organizations. He has done over 500 interviews with different news teams across the globe. Tareq speaks on the compelling story of his family, the positive impact of Syrian newcomers and the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Jorgen was the founding CEO of the Charity MATES in Construction.  He is currently undertaking a PhD researching help-offering amongst men in suicide prevention with a special focus on the MATES in Construction program. 

Jorgen has been instrumental to the development of the MATES program from a suicide intervention program to an industry blueprint for better mental health and suicide prevention. 

After 14 with MATES in Construction Jorgen has decided to move on and recently established Semicolon Consulting seeking to organisations and business in developing integrated multimodal approaches to mental health and suicide prevention.
Jim Martyn has worked in hospitality for nearly 20 years. In 2011, Jim joined The Canadian Brewhouse, when they had only 3 locations and less than 150 employees. Over the past decade, Jim has grown through many roles in the organization, and most recently has served as their Vice President of Human Resources since 2017. Jim has watched as their brand expanded from 3 locations to over 60 locations with multiple brands and upwards of 3500 total employees. Jim’s most noticeable accomplishment has been fostering a strong relationship in the past three years with the Canadian Mental Health Association. His mission in Human Resources is to raise mental health awareness and provide resources and materials for one of the most underserved and largest sectors of employment in Canada: Hospitality.

Meet the Working Stronger Conference Emcees​

Seanna Collins is a multi-faceted, experienced broadcasting personality offering a variety of media talent services. She has spent the last 34 years in Edmonton – the city she was born in. She currently runs her own company as a freelance media personality and emcee.

Her expansive television career includes hosting her own lifestyle programs, prime-time entertainment specials, live on-location broadcasts and numerous client commercials for CTV, Global Edmonton and Shaw. Her extensive radio career includes hosting her own Morning Show, music specials and on-location client remote broadcasts for 630 CHED, Mix 96, K-97. Magic 99 and EZ ROCK. SEANNA’S involvement as an emcee includes a variety of events: award shows, charity functions, conferences, fashion shows and red-carpet galas.

Giving back to her community as a volunteer is very important to Seanna – she lends her name and expertise to many charity organizations. She is also a licenced Marriage Commissioner for the Government of Alberta. To contact Seanna directly, visit: or
The CMHA, Alberta Division Chief Executive Officer represents Alberta’s regions, the national association and community mental health on a provincial scope.

David is a catalyst for connection between CMHA, the provincial government, non-government organizations and agencies and the lived experience of thousands of Albertans living with mental health challenges, illness and those who pursue better mental health.

The work of the Provincial office is to demonstrate the collective provincial impact/potential of CMHA as it relates to opportunities to advance community mental health. David and his remarkable team are always on the lookout for initiatives which build individual, family, community and provincial access to improved mental health in Alberta and by association across Canada. As a member of the CMHA national leadership team David is part of a nationwide federation of CMHA divisions, regions and branches.

David has worked in the fields of family and relationship violence, poverty cessation, affordable housing, sexual exploitation and mental health. He has over his career alternated between senior leadership roles, project management, communications and fund development direction among a myriad of other activities within the not-for-profit sector. David lives in Edmonton and enjoys a rich and supportive community of family, colleagues, friends and his dog, Piper.

Building strategies and improving mental health

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Alberta Division will host our virtual workplace mental health conference on March 8 & 9, 2022. Working Stronger: Building Strategies – Improving Mental Health is designed to help Alberta’s employers create and maintain mentally healthy workplaces. The Working Stronger Conference makes mental health matter by presenting tools, strategies, resources and supports.

Working Stronger Conference inquiries