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Rights museum called biased

Holodomor being overlooked: group

A national organization representing Ukrainian-Canadians wants the federal government to step in and switch some of the people deciding the content, layout and governance of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

In a report issued Saturday, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress says the museum's board and committees are "dominated by friends and supporters of the Asper Foundation" and lack objectivity.

The Winnipeg-based Congress posted its report after reading in the Free Press about the museum's final content advisory committee report. The committee calls for only two permanent galleries in the museum: one for the Holocaust and the other for Canada's indigenous people.

The Congress wrote to several cabinet ministers to complain that the genocide-famine in Soviet Ukraine and the national internment of Canadians during the First and Second World wars aren't getting permanent exhibits.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/12/2010 (2475 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A national organization representing Ukrainian-Canadians wants the federal government to step in and switch some of the people deciding the content, layout and governance of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

In a report issued Saturday, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress says the museum's board and committees are "dominated by friends and supporters of the Asper Foundation" and lack objectivity.

'It’s a very emotional issue for a number of people...We’ll only get one chance to make sure it’s done right' -- Taras Zalusky, Ukrainian Canadian Congress, on the museum’s final content advisory committee report

JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

'It’s a very emotional issue for a number of people...We’ll only get one chance to make sure it’s done right' -- Taras Zalusky, Ukrainian Canadian Congress, on the museum’s final content advisory committee report

The Winnipeg-based Congress posted its report after reading in the Free Press about the museum's final content advisory committee report. The committee calls for only two permanent galleries in the museum: one for the Holocaust and the other for Canada's indigenous people.

The Congress wrote to several cabinet ministers to complain that the genocide-famine in Soviet Ukraine and the national internment of Canadians during the First and Second World wars aren't getting permanent exhibits.

"It's a very emotional issue for a number of people," said Taras Zalusky, the UCC's executive director in Ottawa.

The Congress is urging people to write to their MPs and federal Heritage Minister James Moore and demand a change in the makeup of the museum's governance and advisory committees.

"We'll only get one chance to make sure it's done right," said Zalusky.

However, a museum spokeswoman said plans for the permanent exhibits haven't been finalized. "The content of the museum is not set in stone," said Angela Cassie.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has received a copy of the Ukrainian Canadians' report: Canadian Museum for Human Rights — A call for inclusiveness, equity and fairness, she said.

The national umbrella group that represents 1.2 million Ukrainian-Canadians said it supported the new museum politically and its members have donated to it. But when the final content advisory committee report was made public this fall, members of the Congress were disappointed.

"It makes only one minor, passing reference to Canada's first national internment operations,'' the Congress report said. The Congress is also upset there is only one reference to the Holodomor. Survivors of the Holodomor shared some horrific recollections of the genocide with the museum committee as it elicited input across Canada, said Zalusky.

"There were some absolutely stomach-churning issues and events that took place," said Zalusky. None of the witnesses' information and input was included in the content advisory committee report, though, he said.

It makes no mention of a permanent exhibit of major civil and human rights violations that occurred in Canada, including the national internment of Canadians during the First and Second World Wars, he said.

"We don't believe their report is balanced," said Zalusky.

"Nor does it reflect a Canadian approach to human rights issues," he said.

Part of the Ukrainian organization's concerns are specific to the report by the content advisory committee whose mandate comes to an end in March, said Cassie. Those findings will be added to the mix of reports from meetings with Canadians across the country, and discussions that are continuing, Cassie said. "It's not a road map."

Congress members are meeting with museum representatives in the near future, said Zalusky.

They're still waiting for a meeting with the federal government to talk about their concerns about the nationally-funded museum, he said. Since 2003, the Congress has complained the museum's "various structures lacked objectivity and did not represent Canadian society, including the initial advisory board, the board of trustees, content advisory council, employees, advisors and consultants," the Congress report said. It proposed several "qualified persons" to serve but said the federal government didn't respond.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Carol Sanders.

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