Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Canadian Museum for Human Rights

December 21, 2010 21:37 ET

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights Response to Meeting With Representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - Dec. 21, 2010) - Stuart Murray, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), met Saturday December 18, 2010 with members of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canadian Ethnocultural Council to address their concerns and any misunderstandings about the CMHR. This discussion reaffirmed the Museum's commitment to ongoing engagement with Canadians as it works to enhance the public's understanding of human rights, promote respect for others, and equip visitors to take a stand for human rights.

"The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will continue to engage with Canadians throughout the development of the Museum's inaugural exhibits, and beyond," said Stuart Murray, President and CEO of the CMHR. "We were glad to meet with representatives from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canadian Ethnocultural Council, and pleased we were able to address many of the issues brought forward concerning the Museum."

The content of the Museum is still in development. "It is important to note that the Content Advisory Committee (CAC) final report makes recommendations to the CMHR for consideration and while important, it is not the only source of advice to the Museum," said Murray. "As noted in my letter released with the CAC report on September 17, 2010, the CAC Report captures the reflections of the committee and reminds us that there are voices that still need to be heard. The Report is one of many sources being considered as we develop our content."

The Holodomor and the internment of Ukrainian Canadians during World War I are particular stories that the UCC wanted to ensure were visible within the CMHR and the Museum confirmed that these stories have always been identified as part of the content planning process. 

The CMHR was also able to re-affirm that numerous mass atrocities, genocides, and crimes against humanity will be featured in one of the permanent zones of the Museum. Canada's War Internment Operations, which affected Ukrainian, Japanese, Italian, German, and other communities, will also be explored within the permanent zone dedicated to Canada's human rights culture. The role of the CMHR is not to memorialize human rights atrocities, but allow visitors to examine them through a human rights lens, to be able to recognize human rights violations, and to be empowered to take a stand against them.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will have 12 permanent zones, more traditionally referred to as 'galleries' featuring human rights stories from Canada and around the world. The Museum will use common themes, known as "threads" winding their way through the museum to explore interconnections, points of convergence and divergence among human rights topics.

In addition to the 12 permanent zones, the Museum will also have a temporary gallery in one of the Museum's "roots". This gallery will be used for temporary and travelling exhibits, either developed by the Museum or developed in partnership with other parties.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), currently under construction in Winnipeg, Manitoba, will encourage visitors to think critically and feel passionately about human rights issues and commit themselves to the ongoing task of creating a human rights society. A look at historical and current violations of human dignity, as well as historical and current human rights successes, play a crucial role in galvanizing commitment to human rights today.

The CMHR's goal is that each visitor leaves the Museum with a clear vision of how they can turn this commitment to human rights into action. In keeping with an "idea museum", the CMHR exhibits will rely heavily on technology, in order to ensure that they are never static but in continuous evolution, much like the evolution of human rights in Canada and around the world.

To learn more about the CMHR visit www.humanrightsmuseum.ca.

Backgrounder: Permanent zone descriptions with working titles and list of some of the common threads.

BACKGROUNDER

CANADIAN MUSEUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) will be programmed around 12 permanent zones in the Museum featuring a wide range human rights stories from Canada and around the world. Woven throughout all the zones of the museum will be common themes, known as "threads" which will link together the diverse experiences of Canadians and others. 

The content of the Museum is very much still in development. Our researchers will continue to engage with experts and scholars in the field to ensure the content is accurate and will continue to consult multiple sources.

PERMANENT ZONE DESCRIPTIONS

ZONE WORKING TITLES AND SUMMARIES

L1 Buhler Hall – Welcome Zone

All visitors will enter the Museum through the Buhler Hall - Welcome Zone, and can from there choose to visit the temporary exhibition hall, take the ramp to the introductory zone, or take an elevator to the Tower of Hope. This is an important place to highlight an Indigenous welcome to the territory and to the Museum. 

L2 Z1 Introduction to Human Rights

This zone will present visitors with a broad vision of human rights to help them appreciate human rights concepts, history, struggles, and successes. It will also explore how human rights are experienced in everyday life. The zone will convey to visitors that a broad definition of human rights must be inclusive of all cultural perspectives.

L2 Z2 Indigenous Rights

The purpose of this zone is to convey Indigenous concepts of humanity, and how Indigenous peoples struggle for and assert their rights in Canada.

In part, this zone confronts the traditional relationship between the museum, as a Canadian institution, and Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Western institutions like museums have long appropriated material culture of Aboriginal people or have perpetuated stereotypes of Aboriginal people as an ethnographic subject, the 'other', a dying race or as victims of dominant society. It was envisioned by the content advisors to the CMHR that the Indigenous zone is a positive space, where Aboriginal peoples are empowered, resilient and not portrayed as victims. There is Indigenous content in every zone of the museum and a great deal of that content is focussed on the overwhelming number of rights abuses and negative trends facing Aboriginal people in Canada. This is an area of Indigenous definitions of their rights, how they are lived, fought for and asserted.

L2 M Canada's Human Rights Culture

This zone will focus on Canada's Human Rights Culture, exposing visitors to key thematic currents in Canada's distant and recent past and their relevance today, viewed through a human rights lens. It will focus on historical incidents of rights violations, as well as on the struggle to achieve civil liberties and human rights. In doing so, the exhibition will help visitors to understand better the processes that have come to shape the Canada's human rights culture.

Victimization and exclusion, while important facets of these stories, will not be the sole focus. Wherever possible, the exhibition will underscore instances of individual and collective resistance to rights violations, discrimination, and exclusions. It will communicate the importance of vigilance and awareness in the protection of rights.

L2 M The Canadian Challenge

The zone explores the fundamental rights and freedoms to which people in Canada are entitled, as well as the limitations to which those rights are subject. The human rights instruments that recognize those rights and freedoms and the bodies that implement them will also be addressed. The zone's mission is to empower visitors with knowledge of how their rights are protected, how to claim them, and how to prevent further violations from happening. 

L3 Z1 The Holocaust

The Holocaust provides powerful lessons on the fragility of human rights, lessons which continue to be relevant today. These lessons include the ways that racist and anti-Semitic ideologies and ethnic hatred motivate rights violations, the potential of the modern State to be a perpetrator, the processes of dehumanization of out-groups such as Jews, Roma, persons with disabilities and homosexuals, the relationship between genocide and human rights violations, and the crucial role of bystanders in enabling human rights atrocities. 

L3 Z2 The Human Rights Revolution

Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (or UDHR) in 1948, human rights have become the global language of justice. While the Universal Declaration is far from perfect, it was a good beginning to a process of human rights definition and promotion that is ongoing today. Civil society has played a key role in this evolution of human rights since 1948. This zone will explore the dynamic relationship between particular struggles in civil society for human rights from the bottom up, and international and domestic laws and policies promoting human rights from the top down. The journey toward the realization of human dignity has been sidetracked by hypocrisy and retrogression. Despite this, the zone will convey a message of inspiration from the never-ending global efforts to promote human dignity for all people. 

L3 Z3 Mass Atrocity

The phrase "mass atrocity" includes genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other large-scale human rights violations, usually perpetrated by nation-states. This zone is a quiet area in which visitors will acknowledge the many specific mass atrocities which have occurred since the beginning of the twentieth century, study the primary source evidence regarding these atrocities, and be inspired by the many ways that people seek to re-affirm their human dignity in the wake of the atrocity.

L3 Z4 The Forum

The Museum's mandate speaks to its role in creating a space for dialogue and for reflection, and the forum will serve as that space, where visitors can engage with others in a creative and participatory exploration of peace and human rights. It will focus on notions of action that are crucial to the protection, promotion and achievement of human rights - creativity, empowerment, dialogue and relationship-building, agency, identity, awareness, education and collaboration.

L4 Human Rights Today

This zone plays a key role in the museum as the main place where contemporary global human rights struggles are presented. It addresses the classic questions: Who? What? Where? Why? How? The exhibits present current issues and emerging trends, which have resonance in multiple contexts and encompass different lived experiences. Emphasizing the indivisibility, interrelatedness and interdependence of human rights, the exhibits of this zone convey the idea that the struggle for human rights is pressing and ongoing around the world.

L4 M Eye on the World

This zone is a changing exhibition gallery for documentary photography and film where visitors will have the opportunity to explore the role of photojournalism in raising awareness of human rights issues.

L5 Hall of Commitment

The Hall of Commitment, as either the final zone in the Museum or the visitor's starting point on the journey, is about activism. It is about empowerment and agency. It is about showing how we are all part of a global community, and that we can make a difference in building and nourishing a human rights culture.

The Hall of Commitment is a lively, exciting place – a place where people can come together, imagine a better future, and conceive of ways to actualize that future. The zone will reinforce notions of global engagement and participation, shared humanity and human dignity as a means of building community, and protecting and advocating for the enjoyment of human rights.

COMMON THREADS

The following is a list of some of the common themes also known as "threads" that will be woven through the zones of the Museum: Aboriginal; Language; Gender; Sexual Orientation; Religion; Disability; Children; Age; Race; Environment; Food; Water; Labour; Health; Education; Poverty; Immigration; Migration; Colonialism.

Please note that this list will continue to develop and that the Museum is committed to ongoing engagement to ensure a wide range of experiences are present in the CMHR.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Museum for Human Rights
    Angela J. Cassie
    Director, Communications and Public Engagement
    (204) 289-2006
    (204) 289-2001 (FAX)
    www.humanrightsmuseum.ca