I want to talk about an important annual event taking place this June 1st. Peace Tree Day is a festival for children and families of every faith and culture to celebrate peace and diversity. It was founded by filmmaker Mitra Sen, the director of the award-winning film The Peace Tree, which tells the story of two young girls, one Muslim and the other Christian, who dream about celebrating each other’s festivals, Eid and Christmas.
In 2006, Mayor David Miller proclaimed June 1st as Peace Tree Day in the city of Toronto. In addition, Vaughan, Windsor, Markham, Richmond Hill, York and countless other regions throughout Canada have organized celebrations.
Mahatma Gandhi once wrote that “it is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others’ religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world’s religions is a sacred duty.”
Peace Tree Day allows us to do just that. And although we are celebrating our diversity, we are also learning how much we really are alike as well. I was asked by the York Regional Police Force to take part in the festivities this June 1st, and I am honoured to do so.
That day, children from all over the world will create Peace Trees that highlight symbols from all cultures and faiths onto one tree to reflect the beauty of “diversity in unity.” Peace Tree Day will also be celebrated in organizations, hospitals, classrooms, homes and school boards everywhere.
Looking at the global situation, what we need more of, now more than ever before, is a better understanding of other cultures and religious faiths. An important figure from history who understands the opposite of this all too well – Anne Frank – once wrote in her diary: “We all live with the objective of being happy. Our lives are all different – and yet the same.”
What she meant, of course, is that although we may come from different backgrounds, we all still live on the same planet, we all care for our families, friends and loved ones, and we all want to leave the world a better place for our children. That is what Peace Tree Day is all about. I hope you have the chance to celebrate the event this June 1st.
“Together We Can Make A Difference”