Ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests, bonsoir!
C'est un honneur d'être ici en Normandie pour célébrer ce protocole d'entente entre nos deux institutions : l'Institut international des droits de l'homme et de la paix, et le Musée canadien pour les droits de la personne.
It is an honour to be here in Normandy today to celebrate this Memorandum of Understanding between 2IDHP and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
This Memorandum has been a long time in coming – two years ago, the Premier of Manitoba and the Vice-President of Lower Normandy signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen economic, cultural and historical ties between our two respective governments and institutions. It's helping create linkages between the Port of Churchill and the Ports of Normandy Authority. It's helping to develop cooperation between the Université de Saint-Boniface and other cultural institutions.
The Memorandum also left room for cooperation between our Museum in Winnipeg and 2IDHP in Caen, which has brought us here today. Some would say that this relationship has actually been building for much longer, however – for sixty years, since members of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles landed at Juno Beach on the morning June 6, 1944 as part of operation Overlord. D-Day was the beginning of the end of a Regime that committed some of the worst human rights violations in history. It was the beginning of the end for a war more terrible than any that had come before. And Canadians did their part. Manitobans did their part.
The Royal Winnipeg Rifles sustained heavy casualties in the opening minutes of the assault on the beaches, and went on to serve throughout the Normandy campaign, participating in the bloody battle for Caen and the battle of the Falaise Gap. The Rifles were not the only Manitoba unit to serve on D-Day, either. There was also the Fort Garry Horse and the 402 Fighter Squadron.
It's not an ideal way to start a relationship – a hail of blood and bullets – but the path to peace and human rights is rarely a smooth one. Sixty years ago, French and Canadian soldiers fought for peace and human rights on the beaches, fields and towns of Normandy. Today we are working to promote peace and human rights through education and understanding. It is a different battle we're fighting now, but it is still an important one.
How appropriate it is that an institute dedicated to peace and human rights should be located in Caen, where some of the heaviest fighting of the Second World War took place. It makes perfect sense. It was the horrors of this war – both on and off the battlefield – that precipitated the creation of the United Nations that spurred them to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1949.
Normandy is a place that has seen first-hand that without peace, it becomes nearly impossible to uphold Human Rights.
Sans la paix, on ne peut pas maintenir les droits de la personne.
In the same way, a human rights museum opening in Winnipeg, Canada makes sense. I believe it is a perfect place for such an institution. Canada has a history of taking a stand for human rights. Canada has a history of taking a stand for peace. We helped found the United Nations; we helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Winnipeg itself has been the scene of many struggles for rights – women's rights, worker's rights and Aboriginal rights, just to name a few. Canada has had its fair share of dark moments as well – but that's why institutions like ours are so important. We need to inspire and educate the next generation of leaders – get them to learn from their past and to work for a better future.
I believe that this Memorandum of Understanding will allow us to do that. I look forward to all that we will be able to achieve by working together to jointly promote education on human rights and peace. There is certainly a lot we can learn from 2IDHP. For example, we are very interested in your Université de la paix – every year the University of Peace gathers in Caen around fifty European and non-European students for discussions on a specific theme related to peace and how to think about peace. It's an innovative way to involve people in discussion and dialogue. And that reflects the goals and objectives Canadian Museum for Human Rights. We would love to create this kind of program in Winnipeg.
In just a few months, on September 20, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will open its doors to the world. The inspiring architecture of our building is drawing attention from around the world and I guarantee you that when you come and visit – and you should all come and visit – you will walk away inspired by amazing human rights stories. But not everyone can come to the Museum, and we understand that. To truly open our doors to the world, we need to be a global institution for human rights education. We need to reach out to institutions like 2IDHP, and create partnerships like this one we formalize today.
And so… thank you.
Merci, Alain pour tous tes efforts et pour le travail de l'Institut.
By not allowing the darker moments in our history to remain shrouded…
…but by shining a light in even the darkest, most painful corners of our past, to learn from past wrongs, and in doing so reminding the world that the greatest nations grow stronger by acknowledging and learning from their mistakes.
We can and will inspire a new generation of human rights defenders.
The greatest promise of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights isn't simply to celebrate our rights as Canadian citizens…
…but to empower our visitors to further our nation's proud legacy of advancing the rights of all.
In Canada's name, this museum reflects the result of accepting the challenge issued by our First World War poet, John McCrae – "to you from failing hands we throw; the torch be yours to hold it high."
Thank you to everyone that has made this day possible – today, we hold the torch high and continue to lay the foundation for future generations.
I look forward to all the good work that is to come.