The five most romantic stories at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner – are you ready for romance? We certainly are - the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is all about love for humanity, but sometimes it’s about romantic love, too. In honour of all the romantics who fight for human rights every day, we’re counting down the five most romantic stories featured at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights:
5. The Ring
Lieb Krycberg made a silver finger ring from a spoon while he was an inmate of a concentration camp in the Second World War. He engraved the ring with his initial, L, and with the initial M for Miriam, a fellow prisoner with whom he had fallen in love. Lieb also engraved the ring with both their prison numbers and then made another similar ring for Miriam. Both Lieb and Miriam survived multiple concentration camps and after the war, they reunited and Lieb proposed. Miriam declined, but she did keep her ring. The copy of the ring on display at the Museum was originally Lieb’s and is on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
4. Jeanette Corbiere Lavell
Jeanette is an Indigenous Canadian who lost her rights because of love and then fought to get them back again. In 1970 she married David Lavell, a non-Indigenous man. Under Canadian law, an Indigenous woman who married a non-Indigenous man lost her “Indian” status. The law took away her rights to live on reserve, inherit family property, receive Treaty benefits or participate in the affairs of her community. She even lost the right to be buried in the cemetery with her ancestors. By comparison Indigenous men who married non-Indigenous women did not lose their “Indian” status, or any of the rights attached to it. Jeanette decided to challenge the law and her case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. She lost her case, but she and other Indigenous women never stopped fighting for their rights. In 1985 the law was finally changed – Indigenous women could marry who they wished without losing their status.
3. Wilcox County High School Integrated Prom
Can you imagine not being able to take your sweetheart to prom because of the colour of their skin? For many years, students at Wilcox County High School did not have to imagine it. The high school had no official prom – instead, parents organized private, segregated celebrations each year – one for white students and one for black students. Then, in 2013, a group of graduating students decided it was time for this to end, and organized the first-ever integrated prom for the kids at their school. Their facebook event page was called “Love Has No Color: Integrated Prom.” They faced opposition from some members of the community, but in the end the event was a success. Afterwards, the school decided to hold an official, integrated prom in 2014.
Love makes you stronger - having a partner to help you fight for what’s right can make all the difference sometimes. That is the case for Paradise and Diverse, the stage names of a couple who make up the Afghan rap group 143Band. Together they make songs that challenge and call out discrimination against women and domestic abuse in Afghanistan. 143Band’s song “Nalestan” is featured in the Museum’s listening stations along with other songs connected to or inspired by human rights issues.
1. Chris Vogel and Rich North
Over forty years ago, on February 11, 1974, Chris Vogel and Rich North became the first same-sex couple to be married in Manitoba, and the second such couple in Canada. Vogel and North said that they had gotten married to challenge the misconception that homosexuals could not have loving, long-term relationships the same way as heterosexuals. It would be many years later, in 2005, that same-sex marriage would become legally recognized by the Canadian government. Their story, along with the stories of many other Canadian same-sex couples who have chosen marriage, are featured in our Canadian Journeys gallery.