canadian museum for human rights

This Canadian museum is totally dedicated to human rights

Canada is home to a multitude of educational and interesting museums, but only one of them focuses entirely on the issue of human rights. 

The Canadian Museum For Human Rights in Winnipeg is the result of Canadian philanthropist, lawyer and politician Israel Harold Asper's dream. 

Asper and his supporters announced their plans to erect the Museum back in 2003, on the 21st anniversary of the signing of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms

He hoped the museum would become a place for students to learn about human rights, a way of improving tourism in downtown Winnipeg, and a way to promote respect and dialogue among all its visitors.

Asper passed away later that year, and his daughter Gail Asper took on the project and made it a reality. 

CMHR is the first new national museum created in Canada since 1967, and it's also the first new national museum ever to be located outside the country's National Capital Region.

The museum's mandate 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 exact location of the museum also has some significance. Situated at The Forks, the museum sits where Indigenous people travelled for peacemaking, dialogue and trade for thousands of years. The land is now considered a National Historic Site

Today the museum hosts exhibitions about the Rwandan Genocide, The Holocaust, Truth and Reconciliation, the displacement of the Rohingya people of Myanmar, workers rights, and more. 

The building itself is quite the sight to see, too. It has a Glass Cloud made of 1,335 custom-cut pieces of glass, many irregular surfaces and more than three-quarters of the walls are sloped at unusual angles.

Back in 2014, the building won the Global Best Project (Cultural Category) award from Engineering News-Record Magazine.The Museum, its builders and designers also won two design awards of excellence from the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction.

And on top of all that, sustainability is a high priority for the museum. It harvests rainwater for air-conditioning and toilet-flushing systems, more than 50 per cent of construction waste was recycled or salvaged, and more than 15 per cent of building materials (by cost) contained recycled content.

The museum's had its fair share of controversies as well, including concerns about its portrayal of indigenous issues as well as the notion that it promotes an “elite” view of human rights. 

Still, CMHR stands today as Canada's (and the world's) only museum solely dedicated to education, recognition and dialogue about the importance of human rights.

Lead photo by

jim.m4


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