Canadian Museum for Human Rights officially open

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The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is now a reality.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/09/2014 (2990 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

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The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is now a reality.

The museum at The Forks was the vision of the late philanthropist and media mogul, Israel Asper. His daughter, Gail Asper, was a driving force behind the project.

At the opening ceremonies this morning, she received a standing ovation after paying an emotional tribute to her late father and all those who made his vision of building a “beacon of hope” on a gravel parking lot by The Forks 14 years ago a reality today.

Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press The opening ceremonies begin at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

“It pains me my father and mother are not here to join us.”

Asper ran one of the biggest fundraising campaigns in Canadian history to get the museum built.

“I was privileged with the adventure of a lifetime,” she told the crowd.

“This is for all of you.”

Politicians of every stripe were seen at the opening, including Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Andrew Swan, Minister of Jobs and the Economy, Theresa Oswald, Manitoba PC leader, Brian Pallister, NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer, Tory MP Steven Fletcher, former Manitoba Liberal leader Jon Gerrard and Coun. John Orlikow.

Some groups protesting various elements of the museum have taken up places around the museum to air their views, too.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not one of the attendees and rumours of a former U.S. president – Clinton or Carter? – taking in the festivities appear to be untrue as evidenced by the lack of Secret Service officers on site. Winnipeg police officers, however, are stationed on every corner around the museum.

Canada’s Aboriginal people helped open the museum this morning.

First Nations elders Clarence and Barbara Nepinak gave the museum their blessing in their mother tongue. A First Nation drummer and singer in traditional dress followed, as guests and dignitaries clutching unopened umbrellas at the ceremony sat in the bleachers under threatening skies.

Metis elder George Ducharme said a prayer asking for help so “we can walk in peace.”

Inuit elder Levinia Brown said a prayer in her language and blessed the building as those I’m attendance bowed their heads.

Governor General David Johnston said the museum is place that will inspire the promotion of human rights.

“It will help us in our continuous struggle for human rights and what still must be done.” It’s a place all schoolchildren should visit, said the grandfather of 11 who said children will be “enticed” by its digitized exhibits.

Canada’s heritage minister, Winnipeg MP Shelly Glover, was next to the podium.

“We are bringing a dream to life,” said Glover, as the rain fell. Glover joked it was God’s way “of baptizing us”.

She saluted the late Izzy Asper, who championed the idea for the museum, and his children who saw it to fruition.

The museum will demonstrate “our values with both pride and conviction,” said Glover. Canada has had its “dark” moments but learned from its human rights mistakes, she said.

“We live in the greatest country on the world.”

Meanwhile, armed with a megaphone, Idle No More aboriginal protesters demonstrated next to the bleachers during the opening ceremonies.

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

History

Updated on Friday, September 19, 2014 10:54 AM CDT: Updates story.

Updated on Friday, September 19, 2014 11:36 AM CDT: Adds comments from Governor General

Updated on Friday, September 19, 2014 12:10 PM CDT: Adds comments from Shelly Glover.

Updated on Friday, September 19, 2014 1:08 PM CDT: Adds comments from Gail Asper.

Updated on Friday, September 19, 2014 4:20 PM CDT: Adds video

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