Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Holodomor drive intensifies

Rights museum lobbied on issue

  • Print

Postcards to Parliament, and more headlines for Holodomor: a campaign challenging the content of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is picking up speed.

As national cultural groups strive to shape the future of the "museum of ideas," some are calling on the federal government to halt funding until their concerns have been resolved.

At issue is the unveiling of a report by the museum's content advisory committee, which was tasked to propose content for the 12 zones of the museum. The report recommended that most zones explore broad concepts -- mass atrocities, for instance. But two are earmarked for specific historical experiences: one for indigenous Canadians, another for the Holocaust.

Other major human rights abuses, such as the Holodomor famine that wiped out millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s, will be explored in a broader zone dedicated to mass atrocities. "We have no objection in the sense of, 'should these stories be included?' Of course, both should be included," said Lubomyr Luciuk, research director for the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

"But why permanent galleries to two communities' sufferings? It boggles the mind."

In December, as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the German Canadian Congress took their concerns public, the UCCLA launched its postcard campaign. Thousands of cards were printed, each addressed to federal Heritage Minister James Moore. Emblazoned on the postcard is a photo of Ukrainian-Canadian men trapped behind wire at a Canadian internment camp during the First World War.

Underneath the photo, a straightforward message: "This time we want in."

Now, the group waits to hear from the powers that be. "It's up to the government to realize there's a significant push-back here, that these are legitimate concerns," Luciuk said. "They're conceptual, and they're fair. We're saying here are our concerns, how are you going to deal with them?"

But in a museum designed to be fluid, digital and ever-changing, what exactly does a "permanent zone" even mean?

"This issue of permanence is concerning to people," said museum spokeswoman Angela Cassie. "But the museum won't be static. In all the stories we're telling, we will be able to continuously refresh and update."

Most importantly, she stressed, CMHR will be a "museum of ideas," not a museum of events. For instance, the zone dedicated to the indigenous experience in Canada is "part of a broader context of introduction to human rights," Cassie said, and will form the basis for a zone exploring the wider Canadian experience of human rights, including internment of Canadians of Ukrainian and other origins during the world wars.

The zone earmarked for the Holocaust, Cassie said, will set the stage for a key zone exploring the revolutionary 1948 Universal Declaration for Human Rights that was drafted in direct response to the Nazi atrocities.

"There are many museums dedicated to particular human rights issues, and their role is very often to memorialize those events," Cassie said. "That's not our role. We want to respect the victims, but part of the objective of the museum is to pull out the lessons of these human rights violations, and take lessons from human rights triumphs. That's a bit different (than) pure memorialization."

On Dec. 18, Ukrainian organization leaders and museum executive director Stuart Murray attended what Luciuk calls a "pleasant" meeting, where Murray noted that the museum's content was not yet "set in stone."

"This will continue until the job is done. It's not going to go away," Luciuk said of the postcard campaign. "We have to rethink the content... based on a more inclusive, equitable thematic framework than seems to have been the case."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 6, 2011 A7


Updated on Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 9:53 AM CST: The 12 permanent zones were developed by the Museum.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Opposition upset over more debt for Manitoba in 2015 budget

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A  young goose stuffed with bread from  St Vital park passers-by takes a nap in the shade Thursday near lunch  –see Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge Day 29-June 28, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local- (Standup Photo). Watcher in the woods. A young deer peers from the forest while eating leaves by Cricket Drive in Assiniboine Park. A group of eight deer were seen in the park. 060508.

View More Gallery Photos


What should the new royal baby be named?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google