Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Museum wows Governor General

Tours construction site, declares it gift to world

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GOV. Gen. David Johnston donned a hard hat and work boots to get an exclusive tour of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Friday before greeting students of a renowned Winnipeg fetal-alcohol treatment program.

Johnston walked the sprawling site alongside museum president Stuart Murray, climbing nearly 25 metres to the museum's freshly poured fourth level.

Catching the first stunning views of The Forks and downtown Winnipeg, Johnston was suitably impressed.

"It just takes the breath away," said Johnston.

"Here we have a museum... not simply for the people of Canada, but for the entire world," he added.

Along the tour, Johnston was briefed on the progress construction crews are making, with more than 200 workers in shifts over 20 hours each day since the new year.

Back on ground level, Murray discussed the latest hurdle for the museum: the remaining $22 million necessary to complete the project.

"We're looking (for the) last pieces of funding to close the final gap to ensure we keep on budget and on time," said Murray.

Construction on the museum is expected to be completed in 2012 with doors opening in 2013.

Johnston's Manitoba tour then took him to the Bridges FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) program at David Livingstone School.

Eight children and three teachers involved in the noted program -- the only one of its kind in North America -- met with Johnston and shared classroom strategies for children in the program.

The students, ranging from Grade 3 to Grade 5, have all been officially diagnosed with FASD and require special adaptations and additional attention to have success in the classroom.

"(His) excellency was very warm and open and asked great questions of the students," said principal Debbie Lenhardt Mair. "(He) made the students feel very proud."

Between events, the Governor General offered rave reviews of his visit to the province and congratulated the city on the return of the NHL.

"In Manitoba, great things happen because there are great people involved in doing them," said Johnston.

Johnston's last day in Manitoba today will see him meet with Mayor Sam Katz, attend a reception with Manitoba's francophone community and help out at a Habitat for Humanity project underway in Transcona.

meghan.potkins@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 18, 2011 B1

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