Speech Delivered by Mr. Patrick O’Reilly to the Chambre de commerce francophone de Saint-Boniface on Thursday April 2, 2009

Tags for Speech Delivered by Mr. Patrick O’Reilly to the Chambre de commerce francophone de Saint-Boniface on Thursday April 2, 2009

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I'm very happy to be with you today to talk about Winnipeg's, and indeed Canada's most exciting project, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

If any of you drove past the site today, you would have seen fencing up around the site and a large trailer, which is the site office. Yes, construction has already begun!! Machinery is in place and we are grating the surface of the ground in preparation for the digging of the first caissons and pilings that will begin in the next week or so. Construction will take an estimated 36 months and our projected opening date is in 2012. Believe me, there is a lot of work to be done between now and then. It is a really exciting time!

The Museum has been close to Manitobans' hearts for a number of years, as they have nurtured the dream and watched it grow. This dream grew beyond the borders of the city, with people from across the country coming forward to support the dream both financially, and in principle. This dream has finally become reality, not just for Manitoba, but for all of Canada. The CMHR, as national Museum, has the distinction of being the first national museum created in over 40 years and the first national museum located outside of the National Capital Region. It is an important statement in a vast, geographically diverse country to say that our national and cultural institutions can and should be located in other large urban centres in Canada.

National Museums play an essential role in preserving and promoting the heritage of Canada and all its people throughout Canada and abroad; contributing to the collective memory and sense of identity of all Canadians; and serving as a source of inspiration, research, learning and entertainment that belongs to all Canadians.

Since the beginning of this project, more than 7 years ago, there has been much debate about the location of the Museum – why Winnipeg? We say, why not? We know that Winnipeg is the ideal location for Canada's human rights' museum. This city has a rich human rights history (Nelly McClung and the women's right to vote, the General Strike of 1919 and labour rights, Louis Riel and the rights of the Métis; and the fight for French language rights, to name a few); it is ethnically and culturally diverse and includes one of the largest francophone populations west of Québec. We are centrally located and accessible from all parts of the country. Winnipeg offers an historic location for this Museum at the Forks – a meeting place for thousands of years where Aboriginal people first gathered, which served as an important economic hub during the fur trade, and which led the charge West with the development of the railway. What better place to bring the world together?

Equally important is the fact that this location makes us neighbours. Franco‐Manitobans are known for their joie‐de‐vivre and ability to roll out the welcome mat. As Saint‐Boniface recently celebrated its centennial, it too is looking towards the future. We believe that there are important partnership opportunities between the Museum and the business, tourism, and education sectors of Saint‐Boniface.

As I have begun to learn more about the Chambre de Commerce Francophone de Saint‐Boniface (CCFSB), I realized that the CMHR and CCFSB mandates may dovetail well. Your mission is to favour and promote the development of commerce in Saint‐Boniface as well as the civic, social and economic wellbeing of the region. The CMHR's mission is to educate, promote respect for others, encourage reflection and dialogue. We want to enhance understanding of the issue and responsibilities of human rights, and ultimately inspire people to act. We also see our arrival as a catalyst for economic growth and development that will benefit the entire region.

In August 2008, through amendments to Canada's Museum's Act, the CMHR became a federal crown corporation. The Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights continues its amazing fundraising efforts and I would be remiss if I didn't say that we need more money and encourage you to consider a donation, or increasing an existing donation! My role with the Museum is that of Chief Operating Officer and we currently have a small team of about 15 very dedicated employees. For the past 7 months, our staff, with the support of our Board of Trustees and many partners, has been focused on the monumental task of planning our building and operations. Over the course of the next three years, 140–180 full and part‐time jobs will be created, offering challenging opportunities to local graduates and highly skilled professionals here at home. It also provides us with an opportunity recruit, educated, skilled, and passionate people to our city. As a national institution, the ability to provide bilingual services is a fundamental principle and is integral in our recruiting process. We believe that Manitoba's francophone population will be a valuable resource for our bilingual institution.

They tell me that Winnipeg is one of the hardest cities to recruit people to and one of the hardest to recruit people from. That says a lot about Winnipeg. This is a truly cosmopolitan city that offers all the same things large urban centres offer, great arts and culture, sports and recreation, and fantastic restaurants (yes I have a few favourites) but with a warmth and character of a smaller centre. I firmly believe this city, and this project, will attract good people. There is a definite buzz about Winnipeg – the new Cercle Molière theatre, the new airport, the MB Hydro building, the downtown, Exchange District and St. Boniface's revitalizations, and of course the Museum.

The CMHR is Winnipeg's catalyst for rejuvenation. Job creation, increased visitor spending, tax revenues generated both during construction and once the museum is open, as well as the potential for spin‐off businesses, will help stimulate our local economy.

Turning our attention to tourism, we know that iconic architecture plays a role in attracting visitors and we are confident that the Museum's design by Antoine Predock, which has already begun to capture our imaginations, will attract international attention. Our innovative and challenging content will appeal to a broad audience including youth, educators, ethno‐cultural groups, recent immigrants, international visitors, Canadians from other parts of the country and of course, local residents. Our conservative estimates indicate the Museum will attract approximately 250,000 visitors annually.

To breakdown this number of visitors a little, according to a recent study conducted by the Manitoba Bureau of Statistics, visitors traveling in family groups are assumed to stay in Manitoba an average of 1.83 days and spend an average of $154 per day per person. Therefore, annually the 50,000 visitors traveling in family groups have estimated expenditures of $14.1 million.

Also, 25,000 visitors travelling in tour groups are assumed to stay in Winnipeg an average of 1.62 days and spend an average of $183 per day per person, bringing total annual estimated expenditures to $7.4 million.

When you add visitor expenditures of $4.18 million for students, $14.1 million for family groups, and $7.4 million for tour groups, it results in Total Annual Visitor expenditures of $25.7 million.

As these statistics demonstrate, the Museum will help grow Manitoba's economy. Yet economic growth should not be happenstance, it should be well planned in order to maximize the benefits. I have created the position of Director of Marketing and Partnerships, filled by Kim Jasper. Her role is to develop purposeful partnerships with a wide variety of industry sectors and partners. I welcome your input and suggestions as to how your organization or individual business could work with us to pursue every opportunity to its fullest. There are many mutually beneficial relationships that will help revitalize our city, we are limited only by our imagination.

The Museum has already begun to forge many important partnerships in the area of education as well, including those with the University of Winnipeg, Global College and Library and Archives Canada. While the physical home is not yet built, we knew it was important to begin the real work of the Museum —exhibiting and telling stories. These partnerships have allowed us to launch our first modest online exhibition called "Everyone has the right: A Canadian and the Words that Changed the World." The exhibition explores the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by a Canadian John Peters Humphrey. Our journey of discovery and awe, of dialogue and controversy, of reflection and inspiration has begun. I encourage you to visit our website at www.humanrightsmuseum.ca to explore this great exhibit.

In the Report to the Minister of Canadian Heritage on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, tabled just over one year ago, a significant point of importance to Canadians was the linguistic duality that exists in Canada. Canadians were eloquent in their advice that the CMHR must not only be a fully bilingual institution providing services to all Canadians, but that even more importantly, the human rights stories include many chapters of linguistic rights – struggles for equality as well as inspiring occasions of the two official languages working in harmony to advance the greater good of Canada.

We are also exploring partnerships with various schools and provincial Departments responsible for Education across the country. We believe that the bilingual tools that we develop, in partnership with the educational system, will support and enhance the work of educators, facilitating learning about issues such as empathy, bullying, and social responsibility.

Yesterday, Rotary International announced a partnership between the University of Winnipeg's Global College, the Mennonite College, the Arthur Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice and the Collège universitaire de Saint‐Boniface, to develop a human rights studies program that will bring students from around the globe to experience the Museum. Consider the potential for creating a unique tourism package for these students and other visitors that could incorporate a visit to the Saint‐Boniface Museum, Centre culturel franco‐manitobaine, Cercle Moliere, Festival du Voyageur, to name just a few possibilities, to create a fulsome experience in the French language. Company is coming and we are prepared to make an investment in working collaboratively with the local tourism agencies, hospitality industry and Chambers of Commerce.

Great hotels, great restaurants, a vibrant art and cultural scene with world‐class dance, theatre, art and music, national and provincial historic sites; and scenic landscapes of prairie fields, beautiful parks, forests, and beaches combined with great, friendly, customer‐service minded people is a perfect combination that we need to harness.

The Museum's development is two‐fold; first, there is the physical building and second, and I suggest most importantly, the development of its world‐class content. We are not a traditional Museum with artifacts and collections; we are a Museum for stories and ideas. The content of the Museum will be ever‐changing and dynamic and every visit you have to the Museum will be unique and different in some way. As an ideas museum, we have the ability to harness technology to help us with this monumental task.

There are educational, cultural, social and spiritual benefits –as Winnipeg becomes a human rights city – researchers, scholars, students, international conferences – people converging from every part of the world to research, discuss, and advance learning in the field of human rights.

We are working with Ralph Appelbaum & Associates to develop the master exhibit design and refine the Museum's storyline. Over the next 12 months, we will be engaging Canadians across the country to identify stories, discussions, controversies, debates, issues and experiences to influence the development of our exhibits. We hope to begin a conversation. Canadians will be invited to help write the story of CMHR and provide feedback and input as we develop our plans.

How will we treat this content? A key element for the Museum will be objectivity. In becoming a centre for dialogue, we will seek to provide a respectful environment for the exploration of contemporary Canadian and international issues. We will work to demonstrate multiple perspectives and lead visitors through a thought‐provoking experience.

As leaders in business, you will recognize that the effects of globalization, and the realization of how interconnected our economies really are. These have become self‐evident during the current international financial crisis. While economists, bankers, business leaders, and political leaders work together to find solutions to restart our economies, we must not lose sight of issues such as poverty, armed conflict, homelessness, hate and oppression in the modern day. Will we find ourselves asking questions like, "Can the world afford to intervene in the next Darfur?" "What is the impact of these difficult times on children's rights?"

We can also learn from the past. We can examine previous financial slowdowns and the Great Depression to learn about the impact that they had on protection of the disadvantaged and other related human rights topics. During times of financial peril, we must protect our fundamental rights, but also, consider what our responsibilities are as Canadians, and as global citizens. Forging ahead with the development of an institution that will be a venue to objectively discuss and debate these questions will demonstrate that though we are a young nation, we recognize that we have a lot to share, and even more to learn. Let us work together to harness the imagination, passion, and vision of this project.

I look forward to meeting with more of you personally to speak about partnering with the Museum and encourage you all to consider the possibilities for our city, province and country. We are ready to work alongside you and can't wait to get started!

Thank you.