Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Canadian Museum of Human Rights


Ukrainian Canadian Congress calls for clarification and also launches Donation Appeal for CMHR campaign

by Rhonda Spivak, April 20, 2011

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore recently  told Winnipeg Free Press columnist Dan Lett that “there will be no permanent exhibits” in the Canadian Human Rights Museum [CMHR] after its official opening in the spring of 2013.  

According to Lett’s article, Moore met earlier this month with the CMHR board, and told Lett that “there will be no permanent exhibits. That was clear from [CMHR CEO] Stuart Murray [appointed by the Harper Conservatives in 2009] and the board.”  Lett published Moor’s statement  this in an article in the Winnipeg Free Press on April 11. To read Lett’s complete article, click here:

After reading Lett’s article the Winnipeg Jewish Review spoke with Angela Cassie , communications director for the CMHR asking her what Moore’s statement meant. Cassie explained that “I can not speak for the Minister” but that the idea is that the Holocaust zone and Aboriginal Rights zone won’t be static, but will always be updated as new research is uncovered such that a visitor will be able to go back to the Museum and see something new in each of those zones. She stressed it was a “living and breathing” museum and digital updates could always be made such that the museum would be a learning centre.  In other words, according to Cassie, the subject matter of the Holocaust will always have its zone in the CMHR but on each visit a visitor would see new and different things in it.

When asked specifically about the Holodomor Cassie said that it would be an “enduring “ story told in the CMHR.

Cassie’s explanation would be consistent with what has been the widespread understanding up until now.

Following the conversation, Cassie sent a written statement to the Winnipeg Jewish Review on April 14, 2011:

“Further to our conversation, it has long been misrepresented that the Museum will only have two permanent exhibits. This has led people to think that all other stories, exhibits, or events examined are somehow temporary. This is inaccurate. We are striving to ensure that they are never static, but are in constant evolution, much like the human rights history in Canada and around the world. 
“There are 12 zones (galleries) in the Museum featuring human rights stories from Canada and internationally. These are gallery spaces and not exhibits. In the case of the CMHR, content within these exhibits will be updated and added to as new research and information is available. In keeping with an “idea museum”, each space will contain a wide variety of exhibits and content, a lot of which will be digitally driven, relying heavily on technology in order to ensure that they are never static, are in constant evolution, much like the human rights history in Canada and around the world. Digitally driven content does not make this content less enduring. We are working towards our inaugural exhibits. Stories will be added and content will be enriched over time.
‘We also have a gallery in one of the roots of the Museum for ‘temporary’ or travelling exhibits. These are for exhibits that can run anywhere from 3 to 6 months and examine particular events, themes, or issues.
‘We are not a memorial. The goal of the CMHR is not to simply memorialize human rights atrocities, while we recognize the importance of acknowledging them. We want visitors to remain vigilant, to recognize human rights violations, and to be empowered to take a stand against them.” 

However,  on April 11 after Lett’s article had been published, Moore’s acting communications director James Maunder told The Globe and Mail: “No final decisions have been made on any permanent exhibits, or if there will be any.”[emphasis added].

Arguably, in my view, Mauder’s statement to the Globe and Mail is not consistent with Cassie’s explanation. Mauder’s statement seems to suggest that it is possible that at a given time a visitor to the Museum may find that there is nothing about the Holocaust or Aboriginal rights at all. The whole state of affairs is rather confused in my view.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress [UCC] has said that Heritage Minister James Moore needs to “come clean” before the May 2 federal election about the content of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  
The group has been pressing both the government, which established the CMHR as a Crown corporation in 2008, and the CMHR board to install “a permanent and prominent gallery” in the museum dedicated to the 1932-33 Holodomor.

For my part, I agree that Canadian Heritage Minister Moore needs to clarify what exactly he meant in his statement to Dan Lett. It may well be that given the upcoming election he wants to leave his statement as ambiguous , such that different parties can read into it different meanings. But this is a very important point.

If he is really saying that the Holocaust and Aboriginal Rights zones will not always be present in the Museum (as opposed to them being present but having changing content), then what he has said is A BIG DEAL. It is a radical departure form what has been understood by the public up until now. If this is what Moore is saying then I can only wonder if his new viewpoint  is the result of all of the wrangling  that has been going on regarding the proposed content of the Museum on this subject  for the last several months.

The Winnipeg Jewish Review will be making an inuiry of Minister Moore to clarify the meaning of his statement.

In its literature, the CMHR says the completed museum, will have 12 “zones,” two of which will be dedicated to the Holocaust and “indigenous rights.” The UCC argues that such a focus “elevates” the suffering of Jews and Canada’s aboriginal peoples above that of other communities.

In a statement issued online in January to clear up various “misconceptions,” the museum said the Holodomor “will be displayed permanently in the ‘mass atrocity’ zone immediately adjacent to the Holocaust zone. This zone will feature detailed information on the Holodomor and many other atrocities that have taken place worldwide ”



Readers may also be interested in knowing that the UCC has launched a donation appeal dated April 17, 2011 that can be accessed by goignt o its website here:

Here's what it says:

"Plans regarding the content for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) were published in the Winnipeg Free Press on November 27, 2010.  To UCC’s great concern and dismay, the plans did not include the Holodomor as having a prominent space in the museum, nor did it include the Internment operations of 1914-1920. As a result, UCC issued a call to action to the community on December 11, 2010.

"Since that time, meetings with museum and government officials have taken place at the local and federal levels, postcard awareness campaigns have been undertaken, and petitions have been signed and submitted with some successful outcomes.  UCC was pleased to learn of the appointment of Dr. Lindy Ledohowski to the museum’s Board of Directors however be assured that this campaign will continue until all of UCC’s goals are achieved.

"However, addressing this important issue has caused UCC to incur significant unexpected expenses and so UCC is now asking for your assistance.  Please donate to the CMHR appeal fund created specifically for this campaign to ensure that UCC is able to pursue the successful resolution of this issue and present its case wherever necessary.  A CMHR Appeal donation card has been included with this bulletin.

"Please give generously to support the community.

“Thanks for everyone’s hard work on this issue.  We are gaining significant ground and I am confident we will prevail.” – Paul M. Grod"

<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Orthodox Union
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Coughlin Insurance Brokers
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Gislason Targownik
  • Raquel Dancho
  • Ross Eadie
  • James Teitsma
  • Janice Morley-Lecomte
  • Artista Homes
  • Fetching Style
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Chisick Family
  • Stringers Rentals
  • Winnipeg Beach Home Building Centre
  • KC Enterprises
  • John Wishnowski
  • JLS Construction
  • Ingrid Bennett
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • The Paper Fifrildi
  • Joanne Gullachsen Art
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Levene Tadman Golub
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Holiday Inn Polo Park
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Bridges for Peace
  • CVA Systems
  • Chochy's
  • Lakeside Roofing
  • Ambassador Mechanical
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • kristinas-greek
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.