Day of the Dead at the Museum: Survivor set on fire by Pinochet’s soldiers in Chile shares her story

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News release details

Carmen Gloria Quintana was an 18‐year‐old student protestor when she was doused with gasoline and set on fire by Chilean soldiers under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1986. On Wednesday, she will share her story during public events at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).

Quintana survived with the help of Canadian diplomat Christian Labelle. She was taken to Canada for medical treatment and her family was also given refuge. Quintana now lives in Montreal. Her story is part of a new exhibit at the CMHR called Freedom of Expression in Latin America.

Both Quintana and Labelle will be at the Museum to participate in two public events on November 2, a holiday celebrated across much of Latin America as Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), when families gather to remember those who have died. Another part of the new CMHR exhibit recreates a Mexican Day of the Dead altar focused on the murders of journalists who have investigated state corruption and drug cartels.

Quintana will speak in French, with concurrent translation to English by an interpreter. Transcripts of interviews conducted by a CMHR curator with Quintana and Labelle earlier this year are posted on the Museum's website in English and French, along with original audio in Spanish and French.

What: Human rights defender Carmen Gloria Quintana

When: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 (Day of the Dead):

  • 11:30 a.m. – An in‐gallery public talk with Quintana and Labelle. Curator Armando Perla will present the context of the new CMHR exhibit that contains their stories. (Admission fees apply for the public.)
  • 7 p.m. – Public opportunity to meet with Quintana, Labelle and Perla in gallery. Admission to CMHR galleries is free from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (regular monthly free evening).

Where: CMHR, 85 Israel Asper Way, Winnipeg

Please arrange for media access by contacting Maureen Fitzhenry (details below).

The exhibit Freedom of Expression in Latin America opened this fall at the Museum, using compelling works of art, moving personal accounts, and augmented reality technology to show how art in three countries in Latin America has exposed truth and motivated action.

The augmented reality story about Quintana is delivered in gallery through iPads. By hovering over one of the fabric art pieces (arpilleras), visitors learn how Chilean women used their art to condemn human rights abuses committed during the Pinochet dictatorship. The augmented reality can also be experienced anywhere by downloading a free mobile app called "CMHR: Stitching Our Struggles" to explore an image printed on a card (available in gallery) or on a PDF posted on the CMHR website.

The exhibit also presents two beautifully detailed retablos (scenes created inside portable wooden boxes) showing human rights violations committed against Indigenous peoples in Peru. Based on survivors' testimonies, some retablos have been used as evidence during Peru's Truth and Reconciliation process.

Another exhibit element recreates a Day of the Dead altar covered with flowers and colourful skulls, used in Mexico to publicly protest the murders and disappearances of journalists who have reported on drug cartels and state corruption. Since 1992, 37 journalists have been murdered in Mexico because of their investigative work and 47 others have died under suspicious circumstances.

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.

Media contacts

Maureen Fitzhenry