Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/9/2014 (1849 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
On Friday we officially marked the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at an outdoor ceremony.
Now, our real work begins.
What now becomes possible? What can we hope to achieve?
The stories we tell will shed light into dark places: stories of resistance and survival, which will in turn inspire stories of their own. And with the launch this month of new classroom learning tools that reach every corner of the nation, we hope to help kick-start a new era in the way our children learn about, think about and talk about human rights and consider their responsibilities as citizens.
This museum will spark new conversations — and, in fact, it already has. Not all of these conversations are easy. We are quite certain the museum's ability to attract visitors will be matched only by its ability to attract debate.
This museum will ignite both passion and protest. It should be no other way. We are successful only if we can arouse spirited and meaningful exchange, whether the museum is the forum for that discussion, or its subject. Impassioned debate is the tool that makes this project stronger.
It's only then we truly open doors to the most profound opportunities: the chance to make this city internationally synonymous with the pursuit of human rights; the chance to draw new people, research, organizations and investment.
We want to help transform Winnipeg into what Arthur Mauro has dubbed a Geneva of the Prairies — a globally conscious and globally recognized destination for cultural tourism and human rights education and scholarship.
For the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is much more than a remarkable building in downtown Winnipeg. It is the expression of a powerful idea.
Canada's new national museum is unique in the world — and not simply because of its outward appearance. This is the only museum entirely devoted to exploring human rights as a concept and aspiration. Unlike the other great human rights museums of the world, this is not a place that commemorates or memorializes.
Rather, it explores how individuals and groups have been able to achieve great things for humanity. And it also shows what happens when people don't care or try. It examines compassion and resilience. It highlights the common threads that bind us as human beings, all connected to each other and to the land, as the indigenous people of this country have always known.
The idea of human rights is powerful because it resonates deeply with all us all. It is an expression of the dignity and respect we all desire, and the responsibilities we all share. Every one of us plays a role.
The stories told inside this museum will deliver that message in some very remarkable ways. In a gallery called Turning Points for Humanity, visitors will point at a human-sized screen to make 13-year-old Vishal Vijay of Toronto appear and tell the story of his passion for the rights of children around the world.
In the Indigenous Perspectives gallery, an elder, woman and child share their outlook and hopes in a 360-degree surround film that dissolves into a vision of the night sky and symbols of the Seven Sacred Teachings of Anishinaabe oral tradition.
In Rights Today, the video eyes of Mexican investigative journalist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro follow you around the gallery until you stop to hear her story about girls who survive human trafficking, violence and abuse.
The museum uses modern technology to support the oldest and most human form of communication — storytelling. It also shares ideas through art, poetry, music, film, video, soundscapes, text panels and over 300 objects and artifacts.
Stories are what we learn from best. And this place is all about education.
The Canadian Teachers' Federation has partnered with the museum to create a comprehensive national toolkit for teachers of classroom resources on human rights that will be released later this month. And the museum worked with the faculty of education at the University of Manitoba to offer a summer Teachers' Institute on human rights education called the Fourth R.
Young people are the natural focuses for human rights education. They are already open to the concepts, optimistic for the future, concerned about human rights and eager to make a difference. An educational hub can be a place where it all comes together, using reliable and objective information, presented in compelling ways.
That's what makes the Canadian Museum for Human Rights worthwhile. It can give our children hope for the future, and the powerful ideas to inspire them.
The opening of the CMHR represents not the end, but the beginning of a journey.
It's a journey worth taking. Together.
Stuart Murray is the president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.