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Speech delivered by CMHR President and CEO Stuart Murray at the CMHR's 2013 Annual Public

News release details

Remarks for Stuart Murray
2013 Annual Public Meeting

Thank you Angela and thank you Eric. Merci.

Merci d'être présent. Je suis content d'être parmi vous ce matin – la Journée internationale des droits de la personne.

I am so pleased to be here this morning on International Human Rights Day and at such an exciting time for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

We have come a long way.

This new national museum… the promise it holds.…this happens once in a generation.

There's no other museum like this in Canada.
There's no other museum like this in the world.

Some said it wouldn't happen. Or that it couldn't happen….that the project was simply too ambitious, too big.

But today we see it. We see Antoine Predock's design, so rich in human rights symbolism, now transforming the downtown skyline. We can admire the sheer beauty of the place…

…and we see that what was not so long ago still a dream is now very, very real.

The hundreds of people who worked to construct this museum have accomplished an AMAZING feat of design, engineering and construction. 

We are SO PROUD of the contributions of EACH of the fifteen hundred workers… from dozens of trades… who poured their sweat… and muscle… and innovation into every beam and scaffold and wall.

To build this Museum took teams from FORTY companies… in EIGHT cities… in three different countries… working closely together. We are proud of their expertise, their commitment to excellence, and their passion.

Because this is much more than a building. It is an expression of the power of human rights.

Le Musée est une extraordinaire rencontre entre architecture et droits de la personne.

Every curve and angle, every beam of sunlight, every placement of stone, concrete and glass was carefully conceived as an artistic symbol of our human rights challenges and aspirations.

When visitors begin to flow through its doors on September 20, 2014, they will be moved and inspired by our exhibits and programs, and ALSO by the physical building itself.

The TOTALITY of the experience is what makes this Museum great, as a journey of inspiration unlike anything you will ever have experienced before.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is an exploration of the past and a vision for the future.

C'est votre Musée et je vous invite à en faire partie.

It will be an amazing encounter between architecture and human rights.

It is already an icon that is making people sit up and take notice of Winnipeg, Manitoba in a new way. 

To give you a sense of the magnitude of this undertaking, our exhibits include:

  • Over 100 hours of video
  • Four documentary films
  • An immersive multimedia experience
  • 26 small format films
  • 37 large scale linear media projections
  • 512 video clips
  • More than 160 objects and works of art
  • 2,543 images
  • Two soundscapes
  • 18 mixed-media story niches
  • 19 digital interactive elements
  • 100,000 words of original text
  • More than 160 objects and original works of art
  • And seven theatres

Our theatres include a unique, circular "basket" theatre… that will be one of only a handful in the world using 360-degree film technology.

This theatre will present an original "surround" film about Indigenous Peoples' concepts of humanity. It will also serve as a space for storytelling, performance and discussion.

You're going to hear more about it later in our program this morning.

Canada's new national museum will create inspiring encounters with human rights… using a range of "wow" factors to connect people to information and ideas in powerful ways.

The views of Indigenous Peoples are extremely important to our overall visitor experience — not only in this remarkable theatre, but also in stories about Aboriginal experiences that are woven throughout every gallery.

Throughout the past year, as construction proceeded towards completion, we've also been out in the community, all across Canada, helping create opportunities for human rights reflection, dialogue. We have hosted and participated in dozens of events.

We welcomed human rights defenders from Guatemala, Armenia and Chile. We invited one of the last surviving "comfort women" survivors from The Philippines.

We've held meetings with the disability community, with teachers and with Aboriginal leaders.

We released the results of an archaeological dig that recovered over 400,000 artifacts.
We signed partnership agreements with the Manitoba Museum, Rotary International and Manitoba Education.

We participated in We Day, Human Library, the UNESCO schools conference, and the fourth International Conference on Human Rights Education, held in Taiwan last month.

And that is just to name a few!
We've been very, very busy.

This coming year will be no different. One of our priorities in 2014 is to keep building awareness and excitement about this amazing new museum…. working with tourism partners…. and taking strategic approaches to marketing and communications that will put us firmly on the national radar screen.

We'll also be putting together an exciting program of inaugural public events and activities. 

We'll be staffing up visitor services so that our guests are warmly welcomed when they arrive. We'll be recruiting volunteers, launching a membership program, and announcing our retail offerings. Our new restaurant – brought to us by the Inn at the Forks — will test out its first meal.

We've gone from the first step to the home stretch. And it's worth reminding ourselves how we got here.

We're at this point today because more than seven thousand individual citizens said, "Yes: I believe in this project and what it will mean for Canada." So they made an investment in the future. They saw the potential for their families, for their kids, for this city and for Canada. And we really need that support to continue.

We're here because the Government of Canada, the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg – as well as organizations ranging from teachers to labour unions to community groups – realized that investing in a human rights museum would pay social and economic dividends for generations to come.

We're also here today because this museum has an extraordinarily talented and dedicated staff. Behind every word on an exhibit text panel, every photograph in a gallery, every touchscreen, every program, every story, every video….
… are countless hours of research, building, consulting, designing, decision-making, planning and testing. It's taken a remarkable effort by remarkable people.

Je suis fier d'être Canadien. Le Canada a apporté plusieurs contributions à l'avancement international des droits de la personne. Pourtant le Canada n'a pas un dossier sans taches, en matière de droits de la personne, et nous avons l'obligation envers la génération actuelle et les suivantes de regarder le passé bien en face et d'apprendre de nos erreurs.

Like Eric, I'm proud to be here today as a Canadian.
This Museum will truly be a source of Canadian pride.
Thank you. Merci. Meegwitch.