Free admission, Inuit drumming, curator talk on December 10
A new exhibition at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights brings human rights stories to life using interactive technology from different eras in Canadian history.
Rights of Passage: Canada at 150 invites visitors to peer through the lens of four different eras since 1867 to learn how people were thinking about human rights at the time. Projected wampum beads dance to the sound of your voice, shifting into designs created by art students at Winnipeg's Children of the Earth High School. A dress made from wearable technology (fibre optic fabric, laser wire and LED lights) changes colours when you step on a hashtag. A Victorian-era "magic lantern" projects images of early human rights struggles.
Visitors can also tune in to war-time broadcasts on a period radio set, switch channels on 1970s vintage TV screens, or watch Instagram posts appear above shifting holograms. Indigenous oral traditions are also showcased as an enduring source of knowledge.
The last of four special exhibitions presented for Canada 150, Rights of Passage opens to the public at 10 a.m. on International Human Rights Day (Sunday, December 10), with free admission to the Museum all day.
An official opening event begins at 2 p.m. in Bonnie & John Buhler Hall, including drumming by Inuit Elder David Serkoak – who contributed to the exhibition as a survivor of the 1950s forced relocations of the Ahiarmiut people in the Far North (Farley Mowat's "People of the Deer"). Curator Karine Duhamel and Design & Production Manager Rob Vincent will then lead a discussion about the new exhibition.
Earlier in the day, a Canadian citizenship ceremony takes place from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the Winnipeg Youth Chorus performs in the Stuart Clark Garden of Contemplation from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Next to the new exhibition on Level 6, a family activity will be offered from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., provoking thought about the power of words, voice and oral history in affecting human rights. Participants will consider how their own history, culture, traditions and world views have shaped their perspectives.
Located in the Level 6 Expressions gallery, Rights of Passage takes a fresh look at events that influenced human rights at different times in Canadian history. It includes personal accounts of Indigenous Peoples' efforts to resist assimilation, preserve a unique history and alter the path of the future. Examples of its diverse stories can be found on the CMHR web site.
The exhibition is divided into five zones:
- 1867–1914 — Foundations and Dislocations. Designed with wood, newsprint, bill posters and lead type, this zone looks at issues facing the new nation of Canada and the First Nations who were already here: early workers' struggles, colonization, social reform, fundamental freedoms and treaties with Indigenous people. A Victorian-era magic lantern projects images on the wall.
- 1914–1960 – Transformations and Interventions. Designed using steel and industrial materials, this zone examines effects of the two world wars and the Great Depression. It explores stories of people taking action, use of state power to curtail civil liberties, the government's policy of assimilation and the transformation of politics. A large, wooden radio plays replicas of broadcast speeches from the era.
- 1960–1982 – Towards the Charter. Designed with plastic and 1970s orange-and-yellow details, this zone explores the turbulent years as Canadian society became more diverse. Its stories cover nationalism and pluralism, social security and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. TV sets from the 1970s play relevant newscasts of the day.
- 1982 to 2017 – Human Rights in Contemporary Canada. Designed with LED lights and fibre optics, this zone looks at Canada's expanding role in the world, the effects of national security on civil liberties, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and issues arising from digital communications, diverse gender identities and environmental challenges. A dress made of wearable technology responds to floor-projected hashtags.
- Defending sovereignty. Designed with projection and graphics inspired by wampum beads, this zone looks at Indigenous rights through the lens of stories about forcible relocation, the burden of peace, effects of environmental degradation, inclusion of the Métis as Indigenous peoples, and the right to recognition. The interactive bead projection responds to visitor voices in recognition of the importance of the spoken word and oral traditions. Designs were created by art students at Children of the Earth High School in Winnipeg.
The Expressions gallery is generously supported by the Richardson Foundation & Family.