XOXO: An Exhibit About Love and Forgiveness

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Experiencing XOXO: An Exhibit About Love and Forgiveness. Photo: Jessica Sigurdson / CMHR

Children are our future. It’s a cliché – but like many clichés, there’s a truth behind it. Here at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), we know that to build a better future, one of the things we must do is raise a generation of human rights defenders. Our commitment to human rights education is reflected in our school programs, summer camps and resources designed to help educators talk to kids about human rights, such as the Canadian Human Rights Toolkit and the Speak Truth to Power Canada website. But education doesn’t begin in the first grade or even in kindergarten – our philosophy here at the CMHR is that you’re never too young to start learning about human rights.

Our new travelling exhibition, XOXO: An Exhibit about Love and Forgiveness, is for children and families. Through hands-on play, children will explore how we channel our emotions in positive ways. Young children are in the process of learning about their basic needs, including food, shelter and water. But they are also beginning to learn about cooperation and conflict, sharing and fairness and the basic rules and responsibilities we have toward one another.

A child looking at images of herself and others on a giant screen.
Exploring facial expressions. Photo: Jessica Sigurdson / CMHR

For younger children, we often see exhibits on dinosaur fossils, planes, trains and building blocks – which are all great – but an exhibit about human emotions is an entirely new experience. In XOXO, children can make a face and see their emotions projected on a screen. They can hold hands and make a secret message appear. They can hug an “egg” and hear the appreciative sound it makes. They can write negative feelings on paper, shred them up and then watch as everyone’s shredded negative feelings are turned into beautiful designs.  They can take their loving thoughts and make them into paper tokens to give to someone special. These are just a few of the engaging elements families can explore in this exhibit.

A child and a man holding hands and looking at a message appearing on a mirror.
Holding hands with someone to illuminate a hidden message about love. Photo: Jessica Sigurdson / CMHR

The Museum is offering all kinds of connected activities. A special play for children young and old, “The Gift”, will run every Saturday and Sunday starting October 10. There will also be story time, songs, skits, love letters, crafts and playtime. You can visit XOXO again and again and have a new experience every time.

A woman helping a child balance on a teeter-totter.
Working together to balance a ball in the centre of a teeter-totter. Photo: Ian McCausland / CMHR

If our children are to become human rights defenders, then we need to teach them compassion. We need to teach them to recognize their feelings and the feelings of others. The intersection of love, forgiveness and human rights is crucial for children, and the basic concepts of inclusion, fairness, respect and empathy are the building blocks of human rights. XOXO: An Exhibit About Love and Forgiveness proves that human rights are accessible for anyone of any age.

A child and a woman working on a letter together.
Exploring what love and forgiveness mean through craft activities. Photo: Ian McCausland / CMHR

XOXO: An Exhibit about Love and Forgiveness was created by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh with support from the Fetzer Institute. It will be at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights until Sunday, January 3, 2016.