On Saturday, September 27th I had my first of what will be many visits to the long-awaited opening to the public of the Canadian National Human Rights Museum. The Human Rights Museum is located where people, cultures, history and business all come together in a picturesque backdrop allowing us to better understand our journey towards a fair and just society. The view from the Tower of Hope is as awe-inspiring as is the architecture throughout the building from the limestone with the imprints of fossils from long ago embedded in this magnificent Manitoba stone. The ramps made from the shimmering alabaster from Spain which meander through all exhibits including the Tower of Hope and provide accessibility to everyone.
Taking the time to relax in the ‘Garden of Contemplation’ which offers a breathtaking view of the ‘Golden Boy’ sitting atop the Manitoba Legislative Building helps one understand the care and thought put into building this beacon for Human Rights. The pools in the ‘Garden’ are encased by basalt which serve as a place for visitors to contemplate our world, the stories and possibilities which the museum brings out.
Moving from the darkness of the lower levels to the light offered through the over 2000 panes of glass that make up the museum. The sun shining through each unique pane of glass offers the image of a glass cloud as you walk through the museum. As magnificent as the architecture of the Museum it is not the reason it is a must visit.
The time has come where we need to re-define the world we live in. We are in a time where despite a world with endless potential we are mired in war, poverty, environmental issues and where many people’s human rights remain unrealized. A world where we have over 30 million people living as slaves. A world where the equality, dignity and freedom of too many people are compromised.
The foundation of human rights is the notion that every person should live in equality, dignity and freedom. Towards this end, the global community recognized that it had to go far beyond simply prohibiting genocide, but instead develop a vision which protected the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all people.
Our local and global conversations are stuck in the all to familiar thoughts of war, economics and arguments surrounding the denials of climate change. Is it possible in a world that is blessed with the knowledge and ability to solve the world’s most complex problems will allow humanities frailties to triumph.
The hope of the Canadian Human Rights Museum is that it will start the conversations that we are so reluctant to have. The hope that we will examine our world through a different filter. A hope that we will learn from the struggles of others. A hope that the principles of Human Rights will be our foundation for moving forward to a world that is more thoughtful, a little kinder and recognizes every individual’s right to equality, dignity and freedom.