The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has been a staple in Winnipeg since it opened in 2014. I visited it for the first time as soon as I arrived in Manitoba four years ago and I returned last month.
I visited the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in September 2021 as part of a paid partnership with Travel Manitoba but the opinions presented here are sincere and I know I will return.
There are heartbreaking but necessary visits. Among those that have moved me the most and gave me food for thoughts during my travels, there is Auschwitz , the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields in Cambodia, and the Museum for Human Rights. Whether you live in or pass through Winnipeg, I can’t recommend visiting this museum enough, and not just because the building’s architecture is intriguing!
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in a nutshell
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is gigantic: there are more than 4,000 square meters of exhibits organized across eight levels, organized as follows:
- Level 1 – a temporary exhibition,
- Level 2 – What are human rights, Indigenous Perspectives and Canadian Journeys,
- Level 3 – Protecting rights in Canada and an indoor garden,
- Level 4 – The Holocaust, the Turning points of humanity, Breaking the silence and Actions count,
- Level 5 – Rights today,
- Level 6 – a temporary exhibition,
- Level 7 – Inspiring change,
- Level 8 – the Israel Asper Tower of Hope.
The temporary exhibition “Artivism”
During my visit in September 2021, the gallery on Level 1 was hosting a temporary exhibition on art and activism. Artists from Argentina, Bosnia, Canada, Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and South Africa each detail human rights issues in their countries.
The Witness Blanket
This is the location also of an incredible work, the Witness Blanket. A few days before the very first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, the timing was perfect.
The artist, Carey Newman, wanted to honour his father, a residential school survivor. He managed to recover 887 items from old residential schools, but also from cultural or government institutions involved.
The result is a monumental and extremely impressive artwork. To extend the experience, you can download the Witness Blanket app, which allows you to zoom in on any part of the work and it will let you know where it’s from.
Hurry up to see this work, it is (temporarily) leaving the museum in January 2022!
The main gallery
The part of the museum where you will spend the most time during your visit is the Canadian Journeys exhibit on Level 2. There are about twenty small spaces dealing with problems that have occurred or are still happening in Canadian society: religious rights, language rights, migrant rights, discrimination towards Indigenous people, the Japanese, the Chinese, the issue of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. And so many others, unfortunately.
If you watched all the videos, studied all the documents and pictures, read all the signs, you would spend hours there. And it is necessary, in fact, because these problems affect us directly, because by educating oneself, one can begin to act.
Historical and Indigenous Perspectives
There is also absolutely sublime Aboriginal beadwork and reflections on Aboriginal issues on Level 2, as well as the entire chronology of human rights, from Antiquity to the present day.
The other levels
The more we go up the levels, the lighter the message, as we climb from shadow to light. The top floor during my visit illustrated this perfectly: the exhibit was about the hope that youth represents.
Another gallery also houses the portraits and biographies of the world’s leading human rights activists, which is very interesting to read. I also liked an interactive game with a simple scenario: you want to start a hockey team for underprivileged young people in your neighbourhood, how do you go about it? Your sense of community gives you points, but you only have five minutes to find equipment, a training location and sponsors!
Lots of exhibits are interactive and allow you to participate, with pencil and paper or via screens. Quotes also punctuate the visit of the museum, each one stronger than the previous one.
And then of course, Winnipeg reveals itself from the height of Level 8. The photos don’t do justice to the sea of green that stretches out in front of us (I don’t think we realize just how great Winnipeg is. is a green city unless you see it from above).
Preparing your visit of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
I am very concerned about Covid and take all necessary precautions. The health orders currently in place in Manitoba are applied at the museum (control of the vaccination card on entry and mandatory masks at all times). The museum is so big, it’s very easy to respect social distancing.
All content in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is bilingual, from signs to films and animations. The super friendly staff and volunteers will be happy to chat with you and answer your questions.
You can book your tickets in advance on the museum website or directly on site. The Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
With children, the museum can also be visited. They’ll enjoy the interactive panel, and some questions can be discussed with children.
Do not hesitate to come and tell me what you thought of your visit afterwards, in the comments here or on Instagram!
More posts about things to do in Winnipeg?
– the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
– the Manitoba Electrical Museum
– the Cement Cemetery
– the St-Boniface Museum
– Back Alley Arctic, polar street-art
– the Manitoba Museum
– Winterlude, an ice-carving competition
– all the museums in Winnipeg
– the West End Murals