Human rights museum, WTF is that all about?
Costing over 350 million dollars to build, the Human Rights Museum is supposed to look like a mountain with clouds surrounding it.
The idea for the museum is that you start at the bottom, in the dark, and start climbing up the “mountain” to the top experiencing a journey from darkness to light and enlightenment.
Darb, being the fitness fanatic he is, suggests instead, we take the elevator to the top and then let gravity do its magic and walk back down. Did I mention he was Mr. Manitoba? I decide to take his fitness advice and take an elevator to the top of the mountain.
Being a mountain, I feel obligated to state the elevation: 100m high! From the top are awesome views of Winnipeg. The top of the museum is called the Tower of Hope. Behind me is the Red River and the Mon Ami Louise restaurant in the middle of a bridge.
Downtown Winnipeg and the old train station from the top of the mountain.
Darb gives the thumbs up for human rights. This is the first new federal museum in Canada since 1967 and is the only museum in the world dedicated to human rights.
From the summit of the mountain we begin our descent. It is almost a 1km walk that crosses many spectacular bridges and walkways. The original concept for the museum was going to be a museum of tolerance.
As you work your way down through the exhibits the walkways criss-cross over themselves. The walls are alabaster stone imported from Spain. In some aspects, the architecture of the building steals the show from the exhibits.
During the initial planning for the museum, there was a great deal of controversy about what exactly it should include. Many special interest groups felt that atrocities from their past should be included whereas others were worried the museum would have too much of a focus on all the negative instances of human rights abuse.
In the end, they settled on 10 main categories for human rights:
The first 5 of those categories are:
– What are Human Rights?
– Indigenous Perspectives
– Canadian Journeys
– Protecting rights in Canada
The remaining 5 are:
– Turning points for humanity
– Breaking the silence
– Actions count
– Rights today
– Inspiring change
The Canadian Charter of Rights is perhaps something we all take for granted. We often don’t think of the charter that gives us the freedom and rights we enjoy.
Everybody has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This power confers great responsibility on all those who work in the media. FAKE NEWS!
An exhibit dedicated to marriage and the right for anybody to get married, regardless of race, sexual orientation etc…
It’s hard to imagine Canada without its health care system. But when it was created in the 1960’s many were against it and felt it was the government interfering in what should be a private enterprise. Others believe that everybody deserves equal access to healthcare regardless of their socioeconomic status.
The Museum also covers many of the atrocities to human life such as the holocaust, abuse of the Roma people, handicap, homosexuals and Holodomor (Soviet-orchestrated Ukraine famine). This particular display is about the Srebrenica Genocide which we had learnt a considerable amount about during our trip through Bosnia some years ago.
Unfortunately, Canada isn’t exactly innocent when it comes to human rights abuse. Here is an exhibit about the way Canada treated Japanese people during the war. The sign on the right lists all the places in BC that Japanese people were forbidden to be in.
In Oct 1970 a cabinet minister and British diplomat were taken hostage by the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ). Prime Minister Trudeau (the first one) invoked the war measures act giving police nearly unlimited powers and revoking the basic rights of Canadian Citizens. The police broke in and searched hundreds of civilian’s homes and jailed more than 400 innocent people without due process.
You then pass through the Garden of Contemplation where you can reflect on what human rights means to you. The area is built from basalt rocks from Inner Mongolia.