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The Peace Tree

Article and photos by Jared Story

At Clifton School, good things come in trees.

On June 1, Clifton students celebrated Peace Tree Day, an international event founded in 2006 by Mitra Sen, a Toronto teacher and filmmaker.

Sen’s 2004 film, The Peace Tree, is about two girls, one Christian and one Muslim, who wish to celebrate each other’s festivals, Christmas and Eid. Sen’s peace tree concept is a tree containing symbols of all cultures and faiths, reflecting the beauty of what she calls “diversity in unity.”

At Clifton, a recently painted peace tree welcomes visitors in the entrance of the school. 

Clifton Peace Tree 5.JPG

“The tree has the word ‘welcome’ in many different languages,” said Clifton principal Nancy MacTavish.

“We surveyed all the parents of Clifton School and we asked them what language was important to them and to say the word ‘welcome’ in that language. We got 21 different languages. I was surprised by how many different languages we have here at Clifton. It’s a very diverse school.”

Clifton also has a physical peace tree in front of the school. Benches, made by R.B. Russell Vocational High School students, were recently installed around the special spruce. The benches were purchased by Clifton through a Winnipeg School Division education for sustainable development (ESD) grant.  

Clifton also purchased approximately 30 books on peace through the grant.

On Peace Tree Day, Clifton students placed wooden discs, each decorated with an individual peaceful image, under the spruce. The school’s Peace Tree Day celebration also featured a song and dance performance to Buffy Sainte-Marie’s "We Are Circling" and a reading of James Proimos’s book Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace.

“It (the book) shows students that one little kid can make a difference, that even if they’re in Grade 1 they can make a difference,” MacTavish said.

“It doesn’t matter what age you are, little things go a long way in being peaceful.”

Clifton Peace Tree 4.JPG

Grade 5 students provide percussion during the musical portion of Clifton’s Peace Tree Day celebrations.


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