Approximately 300 students from Canada and the U.S. gathered Thursday at historic Fort Malden to commemorate the War of 1812 and celebrate 200 years of peace between the countries.
The Path to Peace ArtFest 2012 has been nearly seven months in the making and involved five schools and several government agencies from each side of the border.
"The whole idea of it is to bring the Canadian students together with the American students to learn about the War of 1812 but also about the peace that exists between Britain, Canada and the United States," said Blanca Stransky of the U.S. National Parks Service.
The students first met in October 2011 when 150 students from Windsor-Essex met 150 students from Bellevue, Ohio, at the Paths to Peace Symposium in Put-In-Bay, Ohio.
Students remained in contact online until Thursday, when the American students were in Amherstburg to return the visit.
Students on both sides of the border created artistic presentations, including theatre, dance and puppetry, to commemorate the War of 1812 and the peace that followed.
Riley Little, a Grade 7 student from Stella Maris elementary school in Amherstburg, Ont., chose to tell the story of two brothers — one of whom died — who fled the war. In her tale, one brother buried the other.
"I just wanted to show the actual reality of how tough it was for them," Little said. "One thing that really struck me is how hard it was. It would just be crazy to live in a time like that."
Daniel Reljic is a Grade 6 student from Dr. David Suzuki public school in Windsor. He and his fellow students performed a dance.
"We wanted to do something to show people about peace," Reljic said.
He called the entire project "amazing."
"I didn’t know anything about the War of 1812. From October to now, I’ve learned so much," he said.
Students were split on who actually won the war.
"No one was right. There was no winner," Reljic said.
"The War of 1812 really had no winners. It’s open for interpretation," she said. "The overall value of this project is that we came together as strangers in October and we’re leaving as friends and that’s really was the lasting legacy of the War of 1812; international peace between countries."