History of International School Peace Gardens
The concept of International School Peace Gardens (ISPG) programs was derived from the ancient traditions of the Greek, Viking, and Gaelic peoples. These people were encouraged to drop their weapons and resolve their conflicts in a Peace Grove, twelve trees grown in an oval, with a third party mediator. The Peace Grove was known as Bosco Sacro (a place for peace), symbolic of the life and creativity that thrives in peace.
The first International Peace Park in the world was established between Canada and the United States in 1932. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (see right) links Montana, United States with Alberta, Canada.
During the First Global Conference - Tourism A Vital Force for Peace held in Vancouver, British Columbia in October of 1988, a Peace Tree was planted in Seaforth Park. The International Institute For Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) was created in the process of organizing the conference. Participants were asked to initiate and design places where the idea of peace could be enhanced.
Waterton Glacier International Peace Park © UNESCO
In 1992, Louis J. D'Amore, founder of the International Institute For Peace Through Tourism, launched Peace Parks Across Canada as part of the CANADA 125 celebrations. Peace Parks Across Canada resulted in the dedication of more that 400 peace parks in cities, towns and villages across Canada. Most of the parks were dedicated on October 8th, 1992, at the same hour the National Peacekeeping Monument was being dedicated in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa.
The International School Peace Gardens (ISPG) program was developed by Julia Morton-Marr as a follow-up to the successful Peace Parks Across Canada celebrations. In 1993 the concept of planting a school Peace Garden was developed at West Humber Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, Canada (see left). West Humber Principal, Eric Foster, became the co-founder of ISPG at this time. In the early stages of the project students from the York University Faculty of Environmental Studies joined West Humber teachers in the development of a School Peace Gardens curriculum.
On February 15th, 1994, Ontario's Premier Bob Rae launched the Province's historic Environmental Bill of Rights at West Humber. The first Peace Tree was presented to the Premier and subsequently planted in West Humber's School Peace Garden.
Interest in the concept of using School Peace Gardens to develop peace building curriculum and educational programs continued to build, both in Canada and overseas. This interest led to the creation of the International Holistic Tourism Education Centre (IHTEC).
IHTEC ran the ISPG program from 1993 until 2014 when the organization decided it was time to commence a “Voluntary Revocation of Charitable Status,” effectively putting an end to this program. Julia Morton-Marr (founding president of ISPG) contacted Ontario Parks Association on other matters and as a side note advised that ISPG was in the process of winding down. After numerous discussions it was decided that this program needed to continue being offered and that OPA would be the perfect association to take over its operations. Our mandate of Protecting Tomorrow Today® along with ISPG's mission to educate our youth about protecting our environment and keeping the peace in schools around the world made this partnership a perfect fit.