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Unique jewellery created from remnants of Museum’s exotic rock

News release details

Remnants of alabaster used to build the Museum's glowing ramps and basalt for its Garden of Contemplation have been fashioned into jewellery by Manitoba designers for sale in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) Boutique. Scarves and silk ties have also been created in the motif of the "glass cloud" that covers the Museum's façade.

"You can take away a piece of the Museum and wear it," said Boutique manager Tristin Tergesen, who got the idea from early tours of the original construction site. "We retained pieces of this beautiful rock from our construction, repurposed it and created a connection for our customers."

Tergesen said the Boutique is full of products that reflect the Museum and its human rights themes, carefully chosen from local artisans and fair-trade global sources to build a unique inventory of meaningful gifts and souvenirs. Admission fees are not required to enter the Boutique, located near the Main Entrance. In addition, a new online boutique is being unveiled today.

Exclusive jewellery lines made with the Museum's alabaster and basalt rock were designed by Interlake artisan Cathy Sutton and by DConstruct, a Manitoba company that makes eco-friendly jewellery, handmade from recycled architectural materials, with organics and textiles sourced from artisan communities in developing countries.

The design for the "glass cloud" scarves and ties was inspired by a photograph taken by CMHR member Nancy McMillan of Winnipeg. "I just love the abstract feel of it, the essence of the glass of the building, the blue and grey – and the fact that it comes with a card that tells the story of our glass cloud," said Boutique assistant manager and buyer Rick Plaseski.

"Our goal is not only to create a beautiful atmosphere for shoppers and contribute to Museum revenue, but to connect with the Museum's mandate to promote human rights education – so we love finding these kinds of things to sell," Tergesen said. Examples of other diverse human rights items can be found in the attached backgrounder.

Shopping with confidence and conscience

Examples of thought-provoking items in the CMHR Boutique:

All humans beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights: the first line of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights embossed on stainless steel ornaments, jewellery, key chains, mugs, as well as candles made by Manitoba company Coal and Canary (with an exclusive scent developed just for the CMHR).

Noble = No Bull: youthful anti-bullying jewellery on leather straps, each piece numbered to track the growth of an "army of good will" by Toronto's The Right Hand Gal.

Conscious Step: socks that make a difference. Each unique sock design supports a different cause: Socks that beat HIV; Socks that plant trees; socks that give books or water; socks that feed children.

The Empathy Toy: a game that encourages understanding and empathy for opponents as the only way to win.

"Not Forgotten" Collection: scarves imprinted with the design of a painting by Manitoba-born artist Maxine Noel about murdered and missing Indigenous women. Prints and mugs are also for sale. Proceeds support the Native Women's Association of Canada.

Residential School Faces: soapstone carvings by Inuit artist Alex Alikashuak, based on faces of his Indian Residential School classmates in Churchill, Manitoba, which came to him in dreams.

Same-sex and transgender pride pendants: jewellery by artisan Benée Rubin, originally from Winnipeg. The collection also includes unique interlocking wings, reminiscent of the Museum's glass "dove-wing" design, which can be separated to give one half to a loved one.

Empowering Women: clothing, accessories, ornaments and jewellery made by women in artisan cooperatives around the world, including woven items from Guatemala and unique button jewellery from Morocco by groups featured in a Museum exhibit. Sale of these items helps support women's cooperatives that are improving human rights in their families and communities.

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Maureen Fitzhenry