- Stuart Murray, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), today released the following statement in response to recent publicity centred on Museum content decisions.
"The Canadian Museum for Human Rights deals with challenging subject matter. Its content and its decisions will always be a source of controversy. This is how it should be. Human rights are best defended through education and public awareness – which require open dialogue and vigorous debate. There are numerous possible ways our subject matter could be approached. Everyone has an opinion, some strongly so.
"Our challenge, as the Museum's leadership, is to make the difficult decisions about inaugural program content, knowing there will never be unanimous agreement on our approach. We consult with the public and stakeholder groups, we listen to the views of our Human Rights Advisory Council, we engage in internal debate and discussion with our own expert staff and our governing board. It is natural there will be disagreement.
"This valuable debate and discussion will never end. But the Museum is moving ahead on track. It will open in 2014. Its galleries, exhibits and public programs will be designed to educate and inspire action for human rights.
"Our approach to content has not changed, but our ideas have evolved, guided by lengthy consultation with the public, human‐rights advisors and our own expert staff. Striking a balance between the lessons of historical human‐rights violations and positive stories that inspire hope and action has always been our goal. Canada's human‐rights journey is an important part of Museum content, including both positive stories of those who have persevered through adversity to make a difference, along with recognition of our own human‐rights challenges.
"Canada's newest national museum will be a source of pride. We can aspire to no less. The people of Winnipeg and Canada expect no less. As a Crown corporation, we take our responsibility to the public very seriously. "
Below are the statements that comprise the guiding principles of the CMHR.
Mandate: To explore the subject of human rights, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, in order to enhance the public's understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others, and to encourage reflection and dialogue.
Mission: As with all of Canada's National Museums, the CMHR will play an essential role in: Preserving and promoting our heritage at home and abroad; Contributing to the collective memory and sense of identity of all Canadians; Inspiring research, learning, and entertainment that belong to all Canadians.
Vision: To be an exceptional Canadian and international institution that provides Canadians and visitors with an understanding of the history of and continuing global struggle to defend human rights including Canada's important role in that journey; promotes respect for the dignity and rights of all citizens; encourages learning, debate, dialogue and scholarship on human rights issues; celebrates exemplars of the human spirit; and is a catalyst for positive individual action.
Values: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is an embodiment of Canada's commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. Organizational values such as objectivity, innovation, and inclusiveness underpin all Museum activities so that operations mirror and advance our mandate. The Museum's status as a national institution confer a set of principles including accountability and transparency, national accessibility and engagement, collaboration, corporate citizenship, and sound research and scholarship.