Apology from the Executive team of the CMHR

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Exterior view of the museum architecture with prairie grass in the foreground

Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

News release details

From January 2015 (when the Museum began offering education programs) until mid‐2017, the Museum accommodated some school groups who requested adapted school programs that excluded – or even hid – LGBTQ2+ content.

This practice was wrong and was ended. This practice is contrary to the Museum’s mandate, and contrary to everything we stand for as a museum for human rights. For breaking the trust that was extended to us by the LGBTQ2+ community, our visitors, our staff and volunteers, our members and donors, and for the hurt and harm this betrayal has caused, we apologize. We failed in our responsibility as leaders.

The LGBTQ2+ community has a long and painful history of their stories and experiences being hidden, invalidated and marginalized. Many members of the community look to the Museum to place these stories in their proper location – as a crucially important part of the struggle for human rights that continues today. For the Museum to actively try to hide these stories and experiences which are displayed prominently in our galleries is not just a painful repetition of a pattern of oppression, it is a profound betrayal. It is a betrayal of the LGBTQ2+ community who trusted the Museum with their stories. It is a betrayal of students who have a right to know the full story the ongoing struggle for human rights. It is a betrayal of our staff and volunteers who came to work at this Museum because they want to help make a more just, free and equitable society. It is a betrayal of our members and donors who have supported and sustained the Museum because they believe in human rights. And it is a betrayal of the Museum’s central conviction that all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights.

Words mean little without actions. A thorough examination of this issue will be done as part of the external review of complaints about systemic racism and discrimination that was launched earlier this week. This review process will provide recommendations on the necessary next steps to end all forms of discrimination at the Museum.

Along with this review the Museum will be implementing a number of specific initiatives to improve the inclusion of LGBTQ2+ perspectives in all our operations and to eradicate any systemic discrimination from the Museum. These initiatives will be deeply informed by staff and we will be creating structures to ensure meaningful input and participation in decision‐making from all levels of the Museum. We will share our ideas publicly in more detail in the coming days. As leaders, we recognize that trust has been shattered and needs to be earned again. We hope you will give us the opportunity to do so.

Sincerely,
CMHR Executive Team

  • John Young, President and CEO
  • Susanne Robertson, Chief Financial Officer
  • Mena Gainpaulsingh, CEO, Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
  • Jacques Lavergne, Vice‐President, Visitor Experience and Business Development
  • Clint Curle, Vice‐President, Exhibitions, Curation and Partnerships
  • Lorraine Farmer, Chief Human Resources Officer