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Mandela: Struggle for Freedom extended until late summer 2019!

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Speech delivered by CMHR President and CEO Stuart Murray during the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Series in Winnipeg, January 29, 2014

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…thank you for that introduction. Merci.

Good morning. Bonjour.

C'est un plaisir d'être ici. Je suis très heureux de pouvoir vous parler du Musée canadien pour les droits de la personne.

We are in the early weeks of what will unfold to become a remarkable year for our city.

For our province.

In my adult life the local calendar has never been so full of truly national and international events…

…the kind of events that bring people and publicity to Manitoba for the best possible of reasons.

  • the Juno Awards
  • Assiniboine Park unveils the crown jewel in its multi-year renewal:
  • The Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards
  • A Royal Visit
  • September 20…

…234 days from today…

…we will open the doors to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Je vous invite à venir nous visiter quand le Musée ouvrira ses portes en septembre 2014.

We will open the doors to a museum that embodies the best of both the local spirit and the human spirit;

A museum that will be a beacon of hope, of optimism, and pride…

…not just for our own families, colleagues and friends, but for people in all corners of Canada and abroad who will leave here inspired, energized, hopeful, and excited to return.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will welcome the world…

…yet it's a place that will forever be uniquely ours, as Canadians and as Manitobans.

Because the Canadian Museum for Human Rights reflects the contributions of people across our province and across our country.

In every sense, your new museum has been a team effort on a grand scale, from the thousands who have supported the project with their ideas…

…to the thousands more who have supported the project with their financial generosity.

More than seven thousand and five hundred individual donors. (investors)

And that includes many here in this room.

But regardless of whether you have yet to be involved with the museum in any formal way, you can and should take credit for its success.

Why?

Because as with any major endeavour, you need the right conditions, the right climate, the right attitude to be able to build.

You need a climate of confidence. Optimism. Forward thinking. A willingness to explore and invest in new projects and new ideas.

We have that climate in this city and in this province.

This is the climate of opportunity and possibility within which we will open the doors to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights…

…and the business community here in Manitoba has been fundamental in creating it.

You feel it in the big, conspicuous, galvanizing ways:

Winnipeg Jets.

Ikea / Target.

The most significant investment and redevelopment in Winnipeg's downtown in a generation.

But you see this spirit of optimism and climate of possibility manifested in smaller ways too, but not less significant:

The Red Seal Toronto-trained chefs who could have opened their new restaurant anywhere in Canada, but chose River Heights.

The digital media entrepreneurs who decided that the best home base to reach clients around the world…

…was a heritage building in the Exchange.

The new boutique hotel on Waterfront Drive that opened just weeks ago.

Or the Winnipeg restaurant owners who saw our prairie winters not as an obstacle but as an asset…

…and decided to create a restaurant on ice, offering hundred-dollar, four-course dinners right on the frozen river.

In fact, there's a dinner being offered tonight, but the tickets are long sold out. I'm going.

We used to associate this kind of creative innovation with other cities. Other provinces.

But no longer. No more Johnny-come-lately.

The business community in Manitoba has shown that our province is abundant in three essential ingredients:

A forward-looking, imaginative spark.

Good old-fashioned hard work.

And an unrelenting belief that Manitoba is an exceptional place to build a business and invest.

We have a strong, stable foundation here. And the economic numbers back it up.

I glanced through some of the headlines after the annual economic forecasts came out last month:

"Conference Board has good outlook for Manitoba economy."

"RBC adds to rosy predictions for Manitoba economy."

"House prices likely to rise 3 percent."

No matter how you measure it, there is what we might call a "new confidence" here.

I've been the CEO of another proud Manitoba company and I know, as you do, that a climate of success doesn't just materialize because you add water and stir.

You have to build it.

Year by year. Piece by piece.

What we have today in Manitoba is the product of people who saw opportunity here.

Chose to invest and work hard here.

Took risks here.

Created jobs and hired people here.

Raised their families here.

Today, we see the dividends of those decisions all around us.

And it's within this climate of possibility and opportunity that we unveil the Canadian Museum for Human Rights:

…a project that will contribute directly to the betterment of those both within our province and those far beyond…

…but a project that is distinctly ours.

This museum sits on a foundation of ingenuity, generosity, confidence and vision ––

A stable base that has been essential to the grand task of taking the idea of an inspiring, world-class destination for human rights…

…to being just months away from opening the doors to something entirely unique in the world.

This museum became possible because people like you in the room today made it possible.

And so it's imperative, in my view, that the museum in turn give back.

I've spoken before, in rooms like this one, about the fact the museum's construction alone has created thousands of full-time jobs.

Or the new provincial and federal taxes the museum will generate in perpetuity.

These are no small things.

I want to be very clear. These impacts, important as they are, only begin to scratch the surface.

Listen to this — this is important.

Your museum will be a place that you, your families and your business can be proud of…

.…because the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will pay dividends in ways that will make Manitoba a better province, Canada a better country, and the planet we inhabit a better world.

I say this because the heart of our work at the museum is education. And education, as Nelson Mandela so eloquently said, "is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world."

The museum is investing so heavily in education because education gives us a win on every level:

In an increasingly globalized world, education is the surest tool we have to dissolve the barriers of discrimination and exclusion…

…and instead accelerate the advancement of genuine human progress.

No person, no child, should ever find the doors of opportunity slammed shut simply because of who they are.

Life can be difficult. The pursuit of success demands hard work.

We know that well.

But we must work to build a world not of artificial limits, but of possibility.

The museum exists to help open those doors.

We know we have no stronger tool than education to break the locks that block the path of opportunity.

We also recognize that literacy in the language of human rights is essential for the jobs and careers of tomorrow.

Global citizenship, global business, trade liberalization, collaborative technology––

…these things can't be decoupled from human rights.

But above all else, education is an investment in our shared future.

When we give our kids and our grandkids the best possible education we can, we're making a down payment on a future with the premise of opportunity, equality, possibility and prosperity.

Le Musée sera un centre éducatif national.

At the museum, education is the core of who we are and what we do.

In fact, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be the recognized destination for human rights education in Canada.

That's our goal. And we're already putting the pieces in place to get there.

Working with partners from across Canada the job has already started, and I want to share a few examples.

Last year, when we partnered with the Canadian Teachers' Federation to conduct a survey of educators…

…we were told there was a gap:

Teachers recognized that being able to offer age-appropriate learning on human rights was critical––

…but the majority said they lacked the resources and teaching tools.

When you think about it, this makes perfect sense.

Five years ago, no one had even heard the term "cyberbullying."

But today it's an urgent issue for kids, parents and schools in every city and in every province.

Teachers told us they need help with these issues…

…because in 2014 the speed of technology dramatically outpaces changes to the curriculum. For parents, for teachers, for communities, it only gets more difficult to try and keep up.

And so, working with the Canadian Teachers' Federation, we're building a nationwide inventory of human rights teaching tools.

The result will be an unprecedented national toolkit for Canada's teachers that will ensure all kids in Canada and their parents can benefit from the best available tools on these exceptionally challenging issues.

And we can use technology to allow this to be an "evergreen" resource, continually updated over time.

It's like an annuity on education.

So there was a pretty significant gap here. But because of the museum, we will fill it.

Another example:

If I mention the name Rosa Parks, or Martin Luther King…

…there's not one of us here who doesn't know who they are. We know their stories and we know their achievements.

But if you're like me, names like Viola Desmond, or Chris Morrissey, don't move the dial. "Google it" (Wiki page)

Yet these are Canadian human rights pioneers. Their work helped alleviate the discrimination and suffering of countless others.

And yet we don't know their stories at all.

Well, we think it's important that Canadian kids are familiar not only with American human rights defenders, but Canadian ones too.

These are our stories. Distinctly Canadian stories. It's how Canada responded.

But without an effort to record and preserve them, they're at risk of being lost to history.

Well, the work of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will ensure that doesn't happen.

In fact, we have a project that has already recorded the life stories of more than 150 Canadian human rights defenders.

And we're using technology to allow us to bring these critical pieces of our national history into our exhibits and into Canadian classrooms.

Americans know how to celebrate!

Americans celebrate the story of their democratic evolution. You can travel to Washington and see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

It's time to have a place for our own stories. The stories that have shaped Canada.

We see another gap here and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is dedicated to helping fill it.

Similarly, for a nation like Canada where human rights is arguably our international calling card, we don't have a national centre for human rights scholarship and research.

Well, that's changing. The museum recognized a gap and the museum is going to fill it.

In fact, we've already attracted human rights scholars from across Canada to work on the museum project.

They're here in Winnipeg with their families, investing in our community and reaching out to their networks of scholars in other provinces and abroad.

And let me tell you: people who work or do research in the field of human rights want to come here.

At this moment we have more requests for conferences and events at the museum than we can accommodate.

All this and we're not even open.

Between the museum, an expanded Winnipeg Convention Centre and our universities, we're going to be able to position Winnipeg as a destination for these kinds of events in ways we simply couldn't before.

Because of this museum, we're going to have people in our city, in our hotels, restaurants and stores who otherwise may not have been able to find Winnipeg on a map.

And this is exactly how it should be: the Canadian Museum for Human Rights should benefit our entire community.

It should put money in the pockets of local business, it should create new jobs by necessitating new development, and it should benefit the whole of Winnipeg and Manitoba by generating significant new taxes that can fund projects that benefit everyone.

In my view it just speaks volumes about this project that we're not even open and yet these indirect benefits are already materializing in such meaningful, tangible ways. 

And it's not just us saying it.

Some in this room may be regular readers of Brent Bellamy's architecture column in the Winnipeg Free Press.

I was speaking with Brent some months ago and he told me that one hundred and ten floors of new building space have gone up or will go up because of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

I asked him: Can I quote you on that?

And he said, "Yeah, absolutely. People want a piece of this. They want to have a view of the building."

You may know that Economic Development Winnipeg has projected the museum's annual gross economic impact at $159 million. Not too shabby.

It's a great number, but to me it's the stories like Brent's that really bring those kinds of figures to life.

Over the coming year we're only going to have more of them.

In November when we announced our opening date, the senior vice-president of marketing for the Canadian Tourism Commission came to Winnipeg for the event.

The word he used to describe the museum was "game-changer."

He used that word, he told me, because the Canadian Museum for Human Rights presents an opportunity to package and market Manitoba on the national and international stage in ways that just weren't possible before.

This is why this is such a big deal for our community.

The museum may be the primary draw, but we have so much on offer here to show the world.

Manitobans know this already, but it's time for everyone else to know it too.

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, as one example, just announced that their 2014–15 season will be human rights themed to mark the museum's opening.

This kind of thing is a perfect synergy…

…a tailored offering both for the local community and to market to far-away guests, and we're only beginning to discover what's possible.

In fact, over the coming months we'll be unrolling additional ways that your business, your family and your children's school can play a part in our inaugural-year events.

My team has left cards on each table, and if you'd like to leave your email address you'll be the first to know about new developments and programs as we get closer to our opening in September.

I've been asked to leave a few minutes for questions, but allow me to briefly close with a request:

Embrace this project as your own.

Whenever you drive by it over the next few months, remind yourself that a project of the scope and scale of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights comes along just once in a generation.

It really is a game-changer. Take pride in being part of it.

For Winnipeg and for Manitoba, this is an extraordinary moment. And having now been CEO of this remarkable project for almost five years, I'm not sure it could have happened anywhere else – but here!

We built this together.

This is our Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Your Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

And it's here for the benefit of our community for years to come.

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

Thank you. Merci.