A special ceremony symbolizing the stories that have been gathered from across Canada will mark the official opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) during Friday's opening ceremonies, Museum officials said today.
Through a special partnership between the Museum and Parks Canada, stones from the farthest reaches of the country – north, south, east and west – will be placed at points along a circle. With the placing of a final stone at the circle's centre, the Museum will be officially declared open.
"The stones represent the stories and contributions from across the country that made the Canadian Museum for Human Rights possible," said CMHR President and CEO Stuart Murray. "They also symbolize the strong foundation on which the Museum's visitors will build the next chapter in Canada's human rights history."
Officials noted the circle is itself a timeless and universal symbol. Significant to virtually every culture, the circle, like the Museum itself, represents inclusion, connection and unity.
Parks Canada hand-gathered the stones from national parks and national historic sites from some of the farthest points of the country:
- Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site in Newfoundland, the most easterly point of land on the continent;
- Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island in the west;
- Point Pelee National Park in Ontario at Canada's southernmost tip; and
- the stunningly remote Quttinirpaaq National Park in Nunavut, located some 3,700 km north of Winnipeg at Canada's northernmost extreme.
The final stone – tyndall gathered in Manitoba from the Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site – will be placed in the centre of the circle as the Museum is officially declared open.
"Stones from national parks and national historic sites across the country symbolically bring all of Canada to this important event," said the Hon. Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. "It's a fitting tribute to the spirit of unity that has made the Museum possible that the CMHR and Parks Canada have partnered to give the opening ceremonies a special relevance to all Canadians."
The Museum's opening ceremonies will be broadcast live on City TV Winnipeg and nationally on APTN and OMNI this Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. CDT. The event will also be livestreamed on the Museum's website.
The opening ceremonies program will feature special performances from The Tenors, Maria Aragon and Sierra Noble. Platinum-selling Quebec sensation Ginette Reno – most recently famous for her renditions of O Canada prior to Montréal Canadiens' home games – will perform the national anthem.
His Excellency the Rt. Hon. David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and patron of the Museum, and representatives from each level of government will speak from the podium. The opening ceremonies will begin with an Aboriginal blessing led by Elders including a First Nations prayer, a Métis prayer and the lighting of an Inuit qulliq.
A children's dance finale – representing Canada's next generation of human rights leaders – will conclude the opening ceremonies program.
All members of the public are invited to take in a full weekend of free events and activities in celebration of the Museum's opening. More than two dozen performances will be offered from morning until late afternoon on both Saturday, September 20 and Sunday, September 21. A free outdoor Canadian Museum for Human Rights Concert with some of Canada's top musical talent will take place on Saturday night. The full event line-up is available on the CMHR website.
From September 22 to 26, a number of special events will be held including private visits by people whose stories are portrayed in the Museum. The CMHR is honouring their courage and giving them a chance to see the exhibits in privacy during these few days. In addition, the Museum will welcome senior Canadian travel and tourism officials for familiarization tours. Regular operations, with paid admission and public access to all Museum galleries, begin Saturday, September 27.
Each stone has a unique "biography," and representatives from Parks Canada are available to discuss their significance and how the stones made their way to Winnipeg from extreme locales.