Canada’s new national museum opens, devoted entirely to human rights
Winnipeg— – His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, today officially opened the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the world’s only museum solely devoted to the exploration and celebration of human rights.
In nationally televised remarks from today’s opening ceremony in Winnipeg, Manitoba, His Excellency spoke about the vital role the Museum can play in helping to engage in dialogue, to learn, and to stand up for what is right and good.
Canada’s new national museum is located next to the Forks National Historic Site, where the Red and the Assiniboine Rivers meet in downtown Winnipeg. Designed by world-renowned architect Antoine Predock, the Museum, with its Tower of Hope and striking Tyndall limestone and glass design, forms an iconic silhouette on Winnipeg’s skyline.
The inspiration for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights came from the late Israel Asper, a philanthropist and entrepreneur. As a proud and grateful Canadian, Asper wanted to create a place where Canadians, especially young Canadians, could learn about human rights and the importance of protecting those rights. When Asper died in 2003, his family continued to pursue his vision and in 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Government of Canada’s intention to make the Canadian Museum for Human Rights a national museum.
Museum President and CEO Stuart Murray said the Canadian Museum for Human Rights shares stories of resilience and courage to inspire conversations about human rights in our communities and our country.
“We open these doors so that all who enter will be reminded of a simple but profound truth – we can make a difference in this world,” said Murray. “Taking up the cause of human rights requires no special training. It demands no formal study or special skill. The tools of change are those with which we are already endowed: understanding, respect, courage and an open heart.”
Today’s opening ceremonies began with an Indigenous blessing led by Elders, including a First Nations prayer, a Métis prayer and the lighting of an Inuit qulliq. Celebrated singer Ginette Reno performed O Canada.
The program featured special performances from The Tenors, Maria Aragon and Sierra Noble, as well as remarks from Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Shelly Glover, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, Canadian Museum for Human Rights Board Chair Eric Hughes and Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights National Campaign Chair Gail Asper.
The placement of hand-gathered stones from national parks and national historic sites symbolized the official opening of the Museum. A children’s dance finale — representing Canada’s next generation of human rights leaders — concluded the opening ceremonies program.
Paid admission to the Museum begins Saturday, September 27, 2014.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. It is the first national museum in Canada to be built outside the National Capital Region. Using immersive multi-media technology and other innovative approaches, the Museum will create inspiring encounters with human rights as part of a visitor experience unlike any other.