Take a stand for human rights through art

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On June 22, 2012, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) welcomed former Governor General the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean to its offices. She was accompanied by local Winnipeg artist Jessica Canard and others from Winnipeg’s Graffiti Art Programming to formally present CMHR President and CEO Stuart Murray with a piece of art created by Jessica.


Michaëlle Jean, Jessica Canard, Stuart Graffiti Art ProgrammingMurray and others from Winnipeg's

Steve Wilson, Stuart Murray, Jessica Canard, Michaelle Jean and Jessica Canard’s mother pose beside the art piece donated to the CMHR. 


Since it opened its doors in 2011, the Michaëlle Jean Foundation (FMJF) has been working to support youth arts initiatives that transform young lives and revitalize underserved communities across Canada. To do so, FMJF has consulted marginalized youth throughout the country to determine how best to support their work. A recurring message has been that Canadian youth want more spaces to display their talents and exchange ideas on ways to better their communities.

Responding to their call, FMJF inaugurated the Creative Spaces initiative. Through partnerships with businesses, museums, and galleries, the Foundation is working to transform public and commercial spaces into places where marginalized youth can design and showcase creative solutions to social issues.

More recently, the Foundation joined forces with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to unveil a new addition to the Museum’s interim offices, entitled “Untitled 2011.” Jessica Canard, a young Aboriginal artist, designed the artwork as part of her work for the Graffiti Art Programming Aboriginal Youth Advisory Committee (GAPAYAC).


Jessica Canard's art piece

Jessica Canard’s art piece “Untitled 2011” hanging in the lobby at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights interim offices.


Art and human rights are often interconnected in interesting ways – art can be used as a means of expression about human rights issues; it can raise awareness about human rights violations and inspire people to act; and it is inherently a human rights tool as art embodies freedom of expression.  Supporting art created by youth offers the opportunity to see human rights and social justice issues through the eyes of an often-overlooked segment of society – young people.  The CMHR’s student travel program and educational programs will enable young people to learn about human rights, talk about the subject with their friends and family, and take a stand for human rights issues close to their heart. 

We are honoured to house the first piece of art displayed through the FMJF Creative Spaces program at our interim offices and we hope that there will be many more opportunities in the future to partner with Mme. Jean to amplify the voices and perspectives of young people in Canada.


Stuart Murray, Jessica Canard and Michaëlle Jean

Winnipeg artist Jessica Canard, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, and CMHR President and CEO Stuart Murray stand beside Jessica’s art piece.


Jessica’s art piece is created out of an old door – a very iconic medium, perfect for the occasion given that both the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights are striving to open doors for youth to achieve their potential and make the world a better place.

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