Remembrance Day: Cultivate Peace

A friend got me thinking about the poppy campaign. He said,

As long as you’re working towards LESS war, i don’t care what colour your poppy is.

— Simon (@stillwellgray) November 10, 2013

I agree.

We’re all familiar with the red flower which adorns the breast of Canadians, Americans and Brits as they pay tribute to veterans of these countries’ wars. The movement emerged in the 1920s as part of Armistice Day as people gathered to commemorate those lives lost during The Great War.

The White Poppy Campaign also emerged around the same time. In 1926, Pacificts created these white flowers as part of the No More War Movement.

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino thinks the White Poppy needlessly politicizes Remembrance Day.  He said, “Remembrance Day is about paying tribute to the valour and courage of those who set the very foundation of the freedoms that makes our country great (White Poppy Under Fire).” Isn’t remembering their sacrifices for the FREEDOM without WAR part of that?

Australians wear sprigs of rosemary as part of ANZAC Day. This plant leaves a potent scent on the fingers and was believed to improve memory. Rosemary also grows wild in Gallipoli, the site of ANZAC’s heart-wrenching defeat by the Turkish forces in April of 1915. Like the Red and White Poppies, this adornment suggests “remember” as opposed to “be political.”

Teaching a Culture of Peace

I try to use Remembrance Day as a day to “Cultivate Peace.” I remind students that The Great War was also called the “War to End all Wars.”

Here are some fantastic resources to do this in your own classroom.

1) Read Sadako and the Paper Cranes and fold peace cranes from origami. Hang them in the classroom as a reminder of Peace.

paper cranes

2) There is an entire month’s worth of lessons at the website, Cultivating Peace. 

here is a downloadable  cultivating Peace #1 (.PDF lesson plans)

peace matches tops and tails peaces quotes (talking about peace)

3) Discuss the following short films.

Neighbours by Norman McLaren, National Film Board of Canada

And Balablok:


War of 1812

I love anniversaries. We can relive moments of the past and celebrate (or mourn) the events shaping our present and future.300x133x2013_war_of_1812-300x133.jpg.pagespeed.ic.dpidUbu9Zf

Our current government invested heavy dollars into the commemoration of the War of 1812. The Canadian War Museum created a stellar exhibit showing the four major perspectives of the conflict (American, British, ‘Canada-British’ and First Nations) and there have been a plethora of reenactments along the St. Lawrence River for the 200 year ‘celebrations.’

Sexias and Morton’s team have created a plethora of activities and lessons around the War of 1812 using the Historical THinking Concepts of ‘the Big Six.‘ (If you haven’t invested in this fantastic resource, you should. Buy it here.) 

These lessons help teachers to give students historical inquiry strategies and skills.  Although I’ll come back to these again and again, Sexias and Morton (2013) conclude:

To think historically, students need to be able to:

  1. Establish historical significance

  2. Use primary source evidence

  3. Identify continuity and change

  4. Analyze cause and consequence

  5. Take historical perspectives, and

  6. Understand the ethical dimension of historical interpretations.