CMHR welcomes resolution of property tax issue

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News release details

Annual report for 2015–16 tabled in Parliament

Final determination of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights' (CMHR) annual bill for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to the City of Winnipeg has added greater certainty to the budgeting processes and assisted in discussions with government about future levels of support, President and CEO John Young said.

"We welcomed the resolution of this long‐standing issue in June and are encouraged by current talks with the Government of Canada about ongoing financial requirements now that PILT levels are known," Young said. "For the past eight years, officials at this museum have foreshadowed that more funding would be required to cover our PILT obligations to the city. We are pleased this has been recognized by the government, and that solutions are being carefully considered."

The 2016 federal budget committed $105.9 million over the next five years, and $6.1 million per year ongoing, to address the immediate operational and capital needs of all national museums.

Young also said that completing the first full fiscal year as an operational museum has provided some concrete visitation and revenue data that will begin to eliminate guesswork from the budgeting process, especially considering that there has never been a cultural institution like the CMHR in a location like Winnipeg.

The CMHR's 2015–16 annual report, tabled on Friday in Parliament, shows more than 346,000 visitors were welcomed during the 2015–16 year ending March 31, including 54 per cent from outside Winnipeg – well above original projections for 250,000 visitors in the first year.

"Museum experts told us to expect a decline in visitation of 15 to 22 per cent after the novelty of the first year was over," Young said. "So far, visitation is tracking above that level as we continue into our second fiscal year."

To date in 2016–17 (April 1 to September 30), there were 175,000* visitors, a drop of 14 per cent* from the same period the year before. Sixty‐five per cent of visitors so far this year have come from outside Winnipeg.

Earned revenues in 2015–16 totaled $3.6 million from ticketed admission, private events, school programs and merchandise sales. The 2015–16 annual report contains fully audited financial statements. It is posted online on the Museum's Web site at

Other highlights from the annual report, titled Stories With Impact, include:

  • More than 50,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 were welcomed to a range of educational programs led by CMHR staff.
  • The CMHR hosted 423 meetings, events and programs – often organizing multiple events per day. Many groups who attended for private events also toured the Museum's galleries.
  • A state‐of‐the‐art, climate‐controlled gallery for travelling and temporary exhibitions was completed on the ground‐floor level in August 2015 and welcomed more than 11,000 visitors to its first exhibition – Magna Carta: Law, Liberty and Legacy, which was at the CMHR for five‐weeks. In October 2015 came XOXO: An Exhibition about Love and Forgiveness, designed to connect young children and their families to human rights concepts. From February to September 2016, the gallery hosted Sight Unseen: International Photography Blind Artists, which challenged visitors to reconsider perceptions of disability.
  • The Expressions gallery on Level 6 hosted The Witness Blanket from December 2015, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) delivered its final report, until June 2016. This powerful installation consists of 800 items retrieved from Indian Residential School sites, survivors, governments, churches and band offices.
  • The Museum reiterated its commitment to reconciliation between Indigenous and non‐Indigenous people in Canada. The TRC's Bentwood Box was relocated to the Inspiring Change gallery with a new exhibit about the work of the Commission, and a special mobile app feature was launched that explains the carvings on the box.
  • The CMHR hosted "One: The Mayor's National Summit on Racial Inclusion", a two‐day event in September 2015 that included speakers, discussions, interactive sessions and live‐streamed conversations, kicked off with an address by author Joseph Boyden.
  • The Museum's first outdoor exhibition was launched to mark the 100th anniversary of the first women winning the right to vote in Canada. Let Them Howl, created in partnership with Library and Archives Canada, saw portraits of women leaders displayed outside at Fort Gibraltar during Festival du Voyageur in February 2016. In January, the Museum also arranged a keynote address by the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, Canada's first and only female prime minister, and a student program with the Honourable Janice Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, to discuss democratic rights for women.
  • An exhibit to mark the Year of Sport in Canada was unveiled in the What are Human Rights? gallery, including the Olympic gold medal of Canadian swimming legend Mark Tewksbury – who visited the Museum to open the exhibit in July 2015.
  • Canadian film director Atom Egoyan and actor Arsinée Khanijian visited the CMHR in November 2015 for an event marking 100 years since the Armenian genocide.

*Preliminary number, updated on January 24, 2017

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Maureen Fitzhenry