The announcement to establish the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was made on the 21st anniversary of the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The museum contains many “firsts”. It’s the first museum exclusively focused on the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. It’s the first national museum in our country to be built in nearly half a century, and last but not least, it’s the first to be built outside of the National Capital Region. The museum, built in Winnipeg, opened its doors in September 2014. The decision to base the museum in Winnipeg was to highlight human rights issues for aboriginal people, as well as to revitalize the city’s downtown core.
The purpose of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is to explore the subject of human rights, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, in order to enhance the public's understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others, and to encourage reflection and dialogue. The museum creates a place where Canadians, and especially young Canadians, can learn about human rights and the importance of protecting these rights. Its aim is to build not only a national hub for human rights learning and discovery, but a new era of global human rights leadership.
It’s hoped that by confronting various human rights issues, the museum will engage Canadians, as well as all foreign visitors, to become a part of an experience that offers both the inspiration and tools to make a difference in the lives of others. Visitors will be partners on a journey to erase barriers and create meaningful, lasting change.
Personally, I have added a visit to the museum to my ongoing “bucket list” of places to see. I remember visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington almost twenty years ago. It was a moving experience and one I think (and hope) I’ll never forget. I’m a firm believer in the adage, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. We need places like these museums as a reminder of what we are capable of doing to one another.
Several authors contribute to the CAN Blog.