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Putting focus on education

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EDUCATION is at the core of the decision by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights not to focus exclusively on tragedies and atrocities, CEO and president Stuart Murray said Thursday.

If the museum's intention was only to commemorate, then it could focus on tragedy, Murray told the CMHR's annual public meeting at Sisler High School.

The museum's job is to educate, and by showing where improvements in human rights have been made, to demonstrate a person "can make a difference," Murray said.

"We're not talking about sugar-coating history or covering up abuses -- we're talking about injecting hope," he said.

"We cannot and will not be a hall of grievances."

Murray announced the museum and the Canadian Teachers Federation have partnered to produce what Murray called a national tool kit of resources for teachers to use in teaching human rights.

"We will build a national inventory of human rights teaching tools," Murray said.

Murray said he will be in Ottawa Monday to announce the details of the national tool kit, declining to elaborate further.

The 90-minute session steered clear of the controversies about significant staff turnover, the inflated budget and delayed opening.

Only in a final question that arrived on Twitter was staff turnover mentioned.

In response to the Twitter question, Murray noted, "There's never one particular reason, I believe, why people move on." He added that the museum didn't fully secure funding until the summer.

"Some people without certainty weren't sure when we were going to open."

Murray and board chairman Eric Hughes emphasized repeatedly the museum will open in 2014. Murray said there is "absolutely" no doubt.

Murray at one point teased about 200 students and members of the public.

"Our opening date will be," he said, pausing dramatically, before continuing, "announced in the first half of 2013."

Murray told reporters the museum is not looking for any particular date to open that would have significance for human rights or be symbolic.

Student and public questions generally were about the inclusion of issues such as the Holodomor in Ukraine, gender identity and disabilities. All will get attention among the exhibits, staff assured the audience.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2012 B1

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