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Capturing human rights through the lens of a camera

This release is more than two years old

This release is more than two years old. For additional information, please contact Amanda Gaudes from our Media Relations team.

News release details

National exhibition of crowd‐sourced photos opens for Canada 150 

A kneeling Indigenous woman brandishes an eagle feather in front of riot police. Two girls in bunny hoods play near a smoking petro‐chemical refinery. A woman wearing a white hijab head‐covering raises her hands in a gesture of prayer.

Ossie Michelin, Mi'kmaq Woman, 2013

These award‐winning images are among 70 photographs chosen from almost 1,000 submissions received from across Canada for an exhibition featuring widely diverse expressions of human rights issues. Points of View opens tomorrow at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) and runs until February 4, 2018. It includes 3D tactile versions of the five award‐winning photographs, enabling visitors who are blind to "see" the art through their fingertips. Each photo in the exhibition is accompanied by captions that reflect the photographers' own views on the human rights themes reflected in their images.

"These photographers present us with a panorama of diverse perspectives through their images and their personal lived experiences with human rights," CMHR president and CEO John Young said. "Each story they tell is truly worth a thousand words – reflecting resilience and resistance, dignity and compassion, and the challenges that continue to confront us. We hope these photographs help foster a deeper understanding of human rights and inspire our visitors to pursue the hard work required to promote human rights for all."

Michael Toledano, Toxic Childhood, 2013

Photographs in the exhibition – the third of four presented by the CMHR this year to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation – were chosen by a multi‐disciplinary jury drawn from across Canada. The CMHR today announced awards for best photograph in each themed category (Reconciliation; Inclusion and Diversity; Freedom of Expression; Human Rights and the Environment), the best youth submission, and the best photograph of the exhibition. These photos have also been turned into sculpted, 3D images embedded with tactile audio sensors for visitors with visual impairments. The award recipients are listed below.

Voting for a "People's Choice" award begins tomorrow in gallery and online, where all the photos in the exhibition can also be viewed. Voting ends January 7, 2018, with the award recipient to be announced on January 16.

A beautiful, soft‐bound book presenting all the photographs featured in the exhibition has been produced, and is available for sale in the Museum's Boutique. It will also be available to order online. The book contains a foreword by Young and an introduction by curator Jeremy Maron, as well as statements from the jury.

The photographs in this exhibition now become part of Canada's national collection and, as such, will be accessible to researchers, scholars and the general public in perpetuity, helping preserve an aspect of Canadian heritage for future generations. The images and captions capture and reflect the human rights dialogue of a very specific point in time today in our country, preserve this moment for the future, and exhibit it to encourage further reflection and dialogue.

Media and the general public are invited to the official exhibition opening event tonight (June 22) from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with music by DJ Co‐op. At 7:30 p.m., Winnipeg artist and photographer KC Adams will discuss how she uses photography to encourage conversations about human rights. Admission is free.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. It is the first national museum in Canada to be built outside the National Capital Region. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the Museum creates inspiring encounters with human rights appropriate for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.

Exhibition award recipients

Best photograph in exhibition and

Best photograph under "Reconciliation" theme

Mi'kmaq Woman, 2013

Ossie Michelin, North West River, Newfoundland and Labrador

Amanda Polchies of Elsipogtog First Nation, New Brunswick, kneels in prayer with an eagle feather in her outstretched hand. She faces a line of riot police. Officers came to break up a blockade put in place by First Nations in protest against fracking on their territory. 

Best photograph under "Freedom of Expression" theme

I Me Myself, 2012

Rajneesh Fontana, Victoria, BC

This is my self‐portrait, for all those women who experience abuse, who have no voice, freedom or equality. You can take a stand and be who you are. We all need to support each other for a better world and a better future.

Best photograph under "Human Rights and the Environment" theme

Toxic Childhood, 2013

Michael Toledano, North York, Ontario

Two girls play in Canada's "Chemical Valley." In this area, many petro‐chemical refineries surround Aamjiwnaang First Nation, denying residents the right to a healthy environment. The community has heightened rates of many health problems.

Best photograph under "Inclusion and Diversity" theme

Melinda, 2014

Darren Ell and Philippe Montbazet, Montréal and Outremont, Quebec

In Hungary, Melinda was insulted in the streets for wearing a hijab. Her daughter was hospitalized after being beaten by five boys. Neither the school nor the police helped the family. Melinda left Hungary with her children. She will soon find out if her refugee claim in Canada has been accepted.

Best submission by a youth photographer

Gone But Not Forgotten, 2016

Madelaine Toupin, Beausejour, Manitoba

In 1959, this home was abandoned when the Inuit village of Hebron, Labrador, was forcibly relocated. After the Province declared the community unviable, all residents were forced to move to new and unfamiliar areas, resulting in poverty and starvation.

The jury

Geneviève Cadieux: an influential figure in Canadian photography, received a 2011 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts for her significant artistic contributions to Canada. She teaches photography at Concordia University in Montréal.

Dr. Kerri A. Froc: a professor of law at the University of New Brunswick, a Trudeau and Vanier scholar, and a member of the Saskatchewan and Ontario bars. She writes on the history and interpretation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, focusing on women's rights.

Dr. Jeremy Maron: a curator at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, where he oversees content related to historical atrocities. He holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Mediations from Carleton University, where he studied the treatment of the Holocaust in Canadian cinema.

Farah Nosh: an award‐winning photographer whose coverage of the Middle East has appeared internationally. In 2011 she launched a photo exhibition featuring the last fluent speakers of the Haida language. Nosh teaches at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. 

David Alexander Robertson: a best‐selling writer whose diverse work includes children's literature, graphic novels, and novels. He won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer in 2015, and his books are widely used in the field of Indigenous education.

This release is more than two years old

This release is more than two years old. For additional information, please contact Amanda Gaudes from our Media Relations team.