Artist Rosemary Wallace painted a willow tree on the wall of the Ishtar offices, a mural that kids will then add to as part of the PEACE program. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Artist Rosemary Wallace painted a willow tree on the wall of the Ishtar offices, a mural that kids will then add to as part of the PEACE program. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Peace tree takes root in Ishtar

City councillor and artist paints symbolic willow tree on wall of transition housing offices

Paint brush in hand, a Langley City councillor undertook a day-long quest to advocate for children experiencing domestic violence.

Rosemary Wallace threw her support specifically behind the Prevention, Education, Advocacy, Counselling, & Empowerment (PEACE) program run by Ishtar Women’s Resource Society. But she said the gesture was part of a bigger desire to help Ishtar in its quest for second-stage housing.

“There are so many vulnerable women struggling to find adequate housing and supports while trying to look after their children,” Wallace shared.

“I have personally known woman trying to escape abusive relationships and needing a place to turn to and not be judged. Women have been able to get help from Ishtar.”

After meeting Berlin and some of her team at an International Women’s Day event in March, Wallace said she was inspired by the work they’re doing to help women and children.

“I wanted to give back by offering up myself to paint something. [Executive director] Maureen [Berlin] asked if I could paint a tree, and I intuitively painted the tree placing a heart in the tree trunk.”

Wallace spent about five hours creating the symbolic tree on the wall of the Ishtar offices.

Berlin explained how children will now be able to add their own leaves, grass, flowers, and rainbows to the life-sized mural.

“Councillor Rosemary spent her day perfecting this hand-painted willow, and we cannot thank her enough for all of its splendor and beauty,” Berlin said.

“This tree will serve as a connection to the children in our PEACE program, where they will be able to add their handprints, and fill each of the leaves on our new Ishtar PEACE willow tree.”

Wallace added: “All I could think about while painting was the strength, courage, and resilience it takes for women to step out and reach for help, and their children holding their hands as they do… it is so important that women get the help they need and to not be held back and frozen by fear!

“That they can heal from the hurt, break free, and know their worth in moving forward to do and be who they want to be. I hope Ishtar can secure a place for second-stage housing,” to help them in that process, she said.

Ishtar is a Langley organization that operates transition homes in the community and provides a number of outreach programs to help women and children living with abuse.

“We are feminist leaders working together locally to eliminate violence against women globally,” Berlin concluded.

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Artist Rosemary Wallace painted a willow tree on the wall of the Ishtar offices, a mural that kids will then add to as part of the PEACE program. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Artist Rosemary Wallace painted a willow tree on the wall of the Ishtar offices, a mural that kids will then add to as part of the PEACE program. (Special to Langley Advance Times)