United Nations Day

Zubeda Vahed

The Peel District School Board and the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board, in partnership with the Peel PEACE Campaign, celebrated United Nations Day on October 24, 2001.

This first celebratory event was initiated by the International Registry of World Citizens to celebrate the United Nations International Day of Peace. Peel’s two earlier events, in 1999 and 2000, were hosted by the Mississauga Civic Centre and Brampton Civic Centre, with support from the Brampton Multifaith Council. The third event was sponsored by the Boards and community groups. The theme selected for this year’s celebration was “The Peaceful Child.”

This was a multifaceted celebration in that it marked the anniversary of The United Nations Charter, which took effect on October 24, 1945, as well as the annual Disarmament Week, celebrated this year from October 24 to 30.

The Partnerships

The Peel PEACE Campaign is a coalition of Peel agencies that promote equality and compassion for everyone. Its foremost objective is to promote alternatives to violence through Peelwide campaigns using posters, media releases, public speakers and displays at community events.

The United Nations Day profiled both the PEACE campaign and both the Public and Separate Boards’ efforts to provide safe learning environments for staff, students and parents. Both Boards were also committed to promoting this wonderful event, which further supported their human rights policies. Through its discipline policy, the Peel DSB is also committed to “providing school learning environments that are safe, orderly, nurturing positive and respectful. Such learning environments are to be peaceful and welcoming for all.”

The Process

Staff from both Boards and interested members of the community, such as the Multicultural Inter Agency of Peel, met early in the year. This group formed a working committee and determined the day, time and location of the celebration. The United Nations Day of October 24 lent itself to the objectives of peace promotion.

The theme for the day, “Celebrating the Peaceful Child” reflected an inclusive, harmonious approach toward all people, locally and globally The committee was determined that the program would be one that was student-driven and student-presented.

In September, schools were invited to participate either as presenters or to have representatives from their schools attend as peace ambassadors for the two-hour program we had planned. Five public schools took the opportunity to make presentations and were asked to offer songs, poetry or drama and create a button, flag or artwork for display. Each school was allocated three minutes for its performance.

Schools that attended as peace ambassadors were invited to bring a maximum of four students and one staff member. Needless to say, there were creative negotiations to increase the numbers of students. Both the Public and the Separate Boards received an overwhelming response to the invitations. In the end, over 300 students, staff and community members attended the celebration in Peel’s H.J.A. Brown Education Centre; ten community agencies set up displays in keeping with the theme.

The program opened with a moment of silence for peace. In his welcome to the students, Peel DSB Director Harold Brathwaite said, “I cannot think of a better time to emphasize the importance of creating a culture of peace in the world we live in... Our efforts also reflect how much we value peace. Our schools celebrate peace in many different ways. Yesterday, I had the privilege of taking part in a celebration of peace at Hickory Wood Public School in Brampton. The school marked the completion of their Millennium Peace Garden by inviting staff, students and community members to take part in a celebration of peace. The school initiated the project in 1999 to celebrate the new millennium and peace in the school and the community.

“Twenty-two columns form a circle around the garden. As a dedication to the harmony that exists at the school, on each column there is a brass plaque with the words ‘peace’ and ‘welcome’ translated into one of the many languages spoken by students at the school. The garden is a permanent part of the school that symbolizes a commitment to peace. No matter what events are happening in the world, the garden will be a constant reminder of the harmony that exists at the school and in the community,” Brathwaite said.

Hickory Wood couldn’t have picked a better time to showcase this project. After a very successful Year of Peace in 2000, the United Nations proclaimed 2001 — 2010 as the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. The focus of the decade is to promote a culture of peace at the local, national, regional and international levels.

Two very capable secondary students, Tiffany Perryman and James Battiston from Lincoln M. Alexander Secondary School, co-facilitated the program. Elementary schools who performed were:

  • Brandon Gate (K—5) Public School’s grade 5 students dramatized a poem “People Make a Difference”; lyrics adapted from Judith Thomas, rondo by Margaret Murray.
  • Erin Mills (6 — 8) Senior Public School’s song, “What a Wonderful World” was followed by multilingual messages for safety, freedom and peace throughout the world.
  • Lyndwood (K— 8) Public School’s Intermediate Girls Vocal Ensemble ‘Pure Harmony’ presented an emotionally moving “Love can Build a Bridge.” The first line was particularly significant for the listeners “Love can build a bridge between your world and mine.”
  • Thomas Street (6 — 8) Middle School focused on their school’s video Live, Love, Laugh, Learn in Harmony and Leave a Legacy. Copies available from grade 6 teacher Paul daSilva at a cost recovery price of $ 10.00
    Call: 905-812-3725 or Email: paul.dasilva@peelsb.com

Michael Bator, Director, Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board, reminded students that Gordon Graydon was the signator to the United Nations. Two schools from the Board provided songs of peace and accompanied with dance and drama. St. Luke’s “O’ Siem” was a poignant piece about freedom and “Last Night I had a Dream” talked about the world at peace. The event ended with audience and participants singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” led by St. Theresa de Avila School.

All 300 staff, students and community members left with refreshments and renewed hope that the events of September 11, 2001, were another reason for working towards peace at the personal, national and international levels.

Follow-Up Activities

Many questions have been raised as to how to deal with the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York. The ETFO kit, Were Erasing Prejudice for Good is an excellent source for dealing with historical and current conflicts and moving towards a peace-promoting stance, as well as make the curriculum connections.

For the Classroom

Use literature to identify human rights issues. ETFO’s ‘We’re Erasing Prejudice for Good’ kit describes how these, and many other books, fit into the curriculum at the various grade levels.

  • My Skin Is Brown (K)
  • Angel Child, Dragon Child (Gr. 1 )
  • In Flanders Fields: the story (f the poem by John McCrae (Gr. 2)
  • Baseball Saved Us (Gr. 3)
  • Mandela forYoung Beginners (Gr. 3-4)
  • Be a Friend: Children Who Live with HIV Speak (Gr. 5)
  • One Day a Stranger Came (Gr. 6)
  • Kids with Courage (Gr. 7)
  • One Day We Had to Run (Gr. 8)

For Moving to Create Peace

  • The Great Peace March (K)
  • Somewhere Today a Book of Peace (Gr. 1 )
  • Celebrations of Lights (Gr. 2)
  • Peace Crane (Gr. 3)
  • Dear Children of the Earth (Gr. 4)
  • Waiting for the Whales (Gr. 5)
  • Peace Begins with You (Gr. 6)
  • Dear World (Gr. 7)
  • Courageous Spirits (Gr. 8)

For the School

  • have a penny drive for peace or for UNICEF.
  • create peace posters, poems, stories.
  • write “Peace” in many languages.
  • have a peace march through the neighbourhood.
  • have a peace assembly for Remembrance Day.
  • have a United Nations day celebration.
  • create a Peace Garden.

Brandon Gate students present "People Make a Difference on This Planet" People make a diff’rence on this plant,
Oh yes, they do!
People make a diff’rence on this planet,
Oh yes, they do!
Love is kind,
Speak your mind.
People make a diff’rence on this planet,
Oh yes, they do!
Police, firefighters, doctors and nurses Teachers, children, our families — all! People make a diff’rence on this planet,
Oh yes they do!

Zubeda Vahed is the Equity Officer: Race Relations for the Peel District School Board. In 2001 she was an accredited delegate to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, where she presented to the Non Government Organization (ngo) Conference. She is a member of etfo's Professional Development Committee.

Teacher Resources

We're Erasing Prejudice for Good. etfo. 1999. Order online from www.etfo.ca
Reardon, Betty, and Alicia Cabezudo, eds. Learning to Abolish War: Teaching Toward a Culture of Peace.
The Hague Appeal for Peace Global Campaign for Peace Education, 77 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017. Tel. 212-687-2623.
Fax: 212-661-2704. e-mail hap@haguepeace.org. www.haguepeace.org.
International School Peace Gardens (ISPG) Email: julia@ihtec.on.ca, www.ihtec.on.ca
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace - a workshop kit on the promotion of a culture of peace with presenters available (staff/student). Contact Anne Goodman. Tel: 416-657-8095. Fax: 416-657-9152. Email: n.goodman@sympatico.ca.
Canadian Race Relations Foundation - www.crr.ca. Tel: 1-888-240-4936. Fax: 1-888-399-0333.