The Hiawatha Tree of Peace was first introduced in May 2017 at Algonquin College as part of a fur trading post pre-show activity for our Canada Roars performances. We invited students to write personal messages of peace and hope on cards which were placed on a specially designed three panel Hiawatha Tree of Peace. Students engaged in discussion with our authentic Indigenous Hiawatha explaining related history and symbolism of the Tree of Peace and related items including wampum and headdress (Gustowah).
There was a surprisingly overwhelming and moving response from thousands of students from across the province. This included messages of hope and peace, some very insightful and some very personal, written by students, teachers and the general public.
We then incorporated Hiawatha with the Tree of Peace as part of a signature event held at the National Gallery of Canada in the summer of 2017 as part of the National Gallery’s summer itinerary Our Masterpieces, Our Stories including the opening of the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries.
The main focus of the evening was for guests to view and enjoy the new exhibits at the Gallery and engage with, and have a photo opportunity with, actors who portrayed key figures from Canada’s diverse history. These figures were introduced with performances in the National Gallery’s Scotiabank Great Hall then stationed throughout the Gallery’s Indigenous and other Gallery exhibits.