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Article and photos by Jared Story
At Clifton School, good things come in
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.
“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
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.”
Grade 5 students provide percussion during
the musical portion of Clifton’s Peace Tree Day celebrations.