Canada celebrated it’s 150th Birthday this past summer. Since it’s birth, there has been an incredible amount of progress within our country. There has also been a lot of struggles, hardships and injustices. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights reminds us of how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.
The museum was constructed in 2008 in Winnipeg, Manitoba; arguably the heart of Canada. The location is fitting, as it sits at the Forks, where the Assiniboine and Red River meet. The area is rich in history and has been used as a trading point and immigration hub for hundreds of years.
This is the first museum in the world to focus solely on human rights and every effort was made to ensure that it was world class. If you visit Winnipeg, it is hard to miss. It truly is a beacon, and while not everyone enjoys the sight of it (much like the Eiffel Tower in Paris), it commands your attention.
The architecture of the building is truly awe inspiring. Some may say that the space is cold and empty, but what it allows for is a clear mind and time for contemplation. Less is more is definitely how I would describe the space. Clean, uncluttered, with beautiful lines and rich natural materials.
The museum spans across 7 levels, which are accessible by gorgeous marble walkways. Each level has a theme that eventually leads up to the top. This is known as the Tower of Hope, which has beautiful views of downtown Winnipeg.
I recommend starting from the bottom and working your way up. The first level is an introduction to human rights with some interactive displays that are meaningful and moving.
The second level contains the temporary exhibits. Two of my favourites were the red dress display, which honours the missing and murdered women of Canada and the gay rights exhibit.
As you move up through the levels there are many issues that are addressed. Everything from women’s rights, the holocaust, residential schools, the environment and the list goes on… You will need at least 3 hours to take everything in. We spent about 5 hours and I still feel like we just scratched the surface.
There are guided tours that you can take for an extra fee (about $5). This allows you to get an in depth look at the displays and the building itself. The tour takes about 2 hours. On the first Wednesday of the month they have free admission and every other Wednesday has a $5 entrance fee. We went on a Saturday and a Wednesday. Saturday was a lot quieter and allowed us to get unobstructed photos.
I could go on and on about the displays and exhibits, but it is best to experience it for yourself. A very relevant place to visit if you are in Winnipeg. It reminded me of the struggles that people face and that we need to be a bit more understanding of one another. Definitely gave me hope for the future as we have come so far. This museum is thought provoking, meaningful and an absolutely beautiful space. So proud that it resides in my hometown of Winnipeg!
If you are interested in visiting the museum there is more information on the CMHR website.