Skip to main content

Learn more

Visit the Museum for only $5 on Wednesday, October 23 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Learn more

Refugees’ perilous sea voyages featured in new exhibit at CMHR

News release details

A new exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) looks at the perilous voyages across the Mediterranean, attempted last year by over a million migrants and refugees who were fleeing war, persecution and instability.

Their journeys began in countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. One in five was a child. Over 3,600 people lost their lives on these voyages in 2015.

The exhibit, called A Perilous Crossing, is centred on the 2015 story of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders as they carried out search-and-rescue operations aboard ships (including a retrofitted Canadian fishing boat, the Phoenix) to save lives at sea.

This small exhibit includes lifejackets worn by children rescued by Médecins Sans Frontières and Migrant Offshore Aid Station last summer – including an inflatable "toy" vest unsuitable for survival at sea – and a plastic compass that was the only navigation equipment found on an overcrowded inflatable boat with 118 people on board.

Médecins Sans Frontières Canada humanitarian affairs advisor Carol Devine will be present at a media event being held in front of the exhibit on Thursday, as well as CMHR curator Isabelle Masson, who oversees the Rights Today gallery where the exhibit is located.

What: Media event for new exhibit at CMHR – A Perilous Crossing

When: Thursday, May 12, 12 p.m.

Where: CMHR, 85 Israel Asper Way

The exhibit was developed by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, in partnership with the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, and with the cooperation of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Newly adapted and re-designed for its showing at the CMHR, it will be on display at the Museum until September 25.

High-resolution photos and video for B-roll are available upon request.

Winnipeg this week hosts the annual conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (May 11–14) at Menno Simons College, which will bring hundreds of NGO workers, academics and human rights advocates from 30 countries to the city.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders is one of the world's leading independent international medical relief organizations, working in more than 70 countries worldwide and with operational centres and national offices in 21 countries. Its mandate concerns emergency relief, and the principles it honours while carrying out our work are contained in the MSF Charter. It launches operations in areas where there is no medical infrastructure or where the existing one cannot withstand the pressure to which it is subjected.

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