Peace Tree Festival
"Let us embrace the beauty of every culture and faith to create peace and hope on earth." Mitra Sen
"In a continent with a diverse population like North America, it is imperative that our children grow up understanding, respecting and appreciating all our unique customs, cultures and faiths. 'The Peace Tree' will illustrate to parents the importance of providing their children with the opportunity to experience and celebrate the vibrant festivals and practices of families from around the world."
A filmmaker and teacher, Mitra Sen created the Peace Tree Festival, celebrated annually on 1 June, to create a common festival where families and friends from all faiths and races can learn about and celebrate each other's cultures, traditions and festivals together. The concept of Peace Tree Day is to educate, donate and celebrate diversity.
The inauguration of Peace Tree Day was held on 1 June 2006 at Toronto City Hall. Children from 50 schools across the Greater Toronto Area participated in the festivities.
"By encouraging children to develop open-minds and experience the positive aspects of life outside their own culture, we will inspire them and help them understand the enriching experience of embracing the diversity that exists around us everyday. This in turn will enable youth to grow up in a society where they will learn to cooperate with people from all backgrounds as we live side by side in our multicultural land. 'The Peace Tree' will bring all our communities together through our diverse celebrations, thereby showing how religion can unite us, rather than divide us."
Sen believes that if we want to preserve the harmonious state that presently exists in North America, and prevent conflict and segregation, we must provide our parents and youth with an educational tool like 'The Peace Tree' in order to ensure that every North American embraces and celebrates multiculturalism.
"'The Peace Tree' is an important and essential resource that will create greater understanding and unite all communities by encouraging our citizens to experience all our vibrant cultures and faiths as we celebrate peace together."
Each year, the Peace Tree Committee works to bring together children from two countries that have had an ongoing history of conflict. The children will create peace symbols from their cultures and faiths and unite to create a Peace Tree together at the border and exchange symbols and gifts from their cultures. In their first year, the Committee worked towards creating a Peace Tree at the border of Pakistan and India, an area that has been bridled in conflict since 1948.
"We hope that through this interaction, the children from both lands will begin to realize their similarities and celebrate their differences together. We hope that they will continue their friendship and realize the importance of respect and compassion for each other," said Sen.
To read more about the film that inspired the Peace Tree Festival, visit here.