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Netherlands Embassy presents female-image crossing light to CMHR

News release details

OTTAWA, June 3, 2013 – The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is thrilled to receive "Sophie", a unique Dutch pedestrian crossing light, as a gift from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The light uses a realistic female body image, sporting a pony tail, instead of the traditional male figure, as an innovative way to draw attention to the predominant use of male figures to represent all people. It will become part of CMHR exhibits about the rights of women. 

"Sophie is a wonderful way to start conversations about women's rights and challenge our own attitudes," said CMHR president and CEO Stuart Murray, who accepted the gift today from Ambassador Wim Geerts at the Netherlands Embassy in Ottawa. "We are very grateful for this donation and for our valued relationship with the Netherlands Embassy."

In 2011, the CMHR signed a formal memorandum of understanding with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to collaborate for the promotion of human rights through joint projects and education. 

"We are very pleased to present this unique object to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights," said Dutch Ambassador Wim Geerts. "Sophie is much more than a traffic light, as she encourages us to think about women's rights. We hope she will soon appear on many street corners in Canada, as well as in this new national museum."

Sophie first appeared in December 2000 in front of city hall in Amersfoort and has since been introduced in several municipalities in the Netherlands. Not only does the female icon reflect human rights concepts, it also seems to improve pedestrian safety! Research suggests that more people stop for Sophie than for traditional crossing lights.

Currently under construction in Winnipeg, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights in Canada. It is the first national museum to be established since 1967 and the first outside the National Capital Region. It opens in 2014.

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Maureen Fitzhenry