Tag Archives: winnipeg human rights museum

Images of Apartheid

I went to the Humans Rights Museum to see the new Nelson Mandela exhibit.  There are images there you won’t easily forget. This wall of signs illustrated how whites and blacks were segregated in everyday life in South Africa. This public notice about relationships between whites and non-whites reminded me of Trevor Noah’s autobiography Born a Crime.  Noah grew up in South Africa. He and his black mother had to walk on the opposite side of the street from his white father when their family was going somewhere so no would suspect his parents had a relationship with one another. This armoured truck was used by the South African government in the 1980s to stop apartheid protesters.These are the coffins for some of the victims of the Sharpville Massacre. In March of 1960 thousands of people protesting apartheid practices went to a police station in Sharpville, South Africa. The police fired into the crowd killing 69 people and injuring nearly 300 more including some thirty children. Today March 21 is a public holiday in South Africa to commemorate this massacre. 

I felt so proud of Canada as I watched this video.  Stephen Lewis, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations in 1988 describes a ground breaking speech Brian Mulroney, Canada’s prime minister made to the United Nations that year. Mulroney declared that his country would impose tough economic sanctions on South Africa unless they changed their apartheid policy.  The United Nations assembly rose to its feet to applaud Mulroney at the end of his speech. Of course the exhibit tells visitors all about the important role Nelson Mandela played in ending apartheid in South Africa and includes his famous 1962 quote……”I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Other posts………

Born a Crime

Racism Pure and Simple

Bear Witness



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Filed under History, Winnipeg

Dipping my Toe into the Human Rights Museum

human-rights-musuem-winnipegIt’s terrible I know! I live a couple of blocks from Canada’s Human Rights Museum. People have been coming from all over the world to see since it opened in September and till last Sunday I still hadn’t been inside. We had a house guest who wanted to see the museum so we took him to visit the building which has become a distinctive landmark on the Winnipeg landscape.  wild grass human rights museum

Before we even went inside I wanted to find out more about the landscaping or seeming lack of it around the building.  Signs told us about the Prairie in Progress that is growing on all sides of the museum. Grasses and plants native to the prairies have been planted  and visitors are encouraged to watch as they establish themselves on the site during the next few summers. grounds-human-rights-museum-winnipegThis approach is meant to show respect for the ground on which the museum is built. The low maintenance eco-system that will develop is part of the museum’s commitment to being a ‘green’ institution.
welcome-to-the-human-rights-musuemMuch has been made about the multi-media approach of the gallery and I noticed that first thing as we entered the lobby and saw this constantly moving screen of people writing the word ‘welcome’ in different languages. human rights museum skylightThe architecture of the place is stunning and it was interesting to read about it on the app you can download for free as you enter the gallery. The app provides information on each gallery as you move from one to another.  On my next visit I want to bring earphones so I can listen as well as read the information. view-from-human-rights-musuemThe first thing we did was climb to the very top of the tower and the view it offers of Winnipeg is worth the admission price itself. 

dave in hrmWe decided to buy year-long passes. After three hours I was so glad we did. I still had the lower two floors of galleries to visit and I was ‘done’.  I am pleased I can go back at my leisure.  I plan to make one hour or so visits in the future and explore the museum in a way that makes is possible to absorb ideas a few at a time. I am also anxious to try the restaurant which I’ve heard others rave about. I have already earmarked a number of things for Christmas gifts in the shop. 

view from human rights museum 2I hope to do posts in the future about things I see at the museum. It is exciting to have an educational treasure like this in my neighborhood. 

Other museum visits………

Residential Schools – The Hiroshima of the Indian Nations

A Bizarre Museum in Florence Italy

Seven Oaks Museum in Winnipeg


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Filed under History, New Experiences, Winnipeg

Taking Teens To Israel and Palestine

With the high school students, I chaperoned in Israel and Palestine

 “Why would the Jewish people after experiencing the Holocaust come to the Holy Land and confine the Palestinians?”

One of my high school students wrote that question in his journal after a very thought-provoking day on a school trip to Israel. We had spent our morning at Yad Vashem. It is a modern museum in Jerusalem designed to take each visitor on an unforgettable journey through the Jewish holocaust experience.

The twenty- two teenagers with me were mesmerized as they walked from room to room. Everywhere they went there were exhibits and screens that told the stories of Holocaust victims and survivors. 

The Hall of Names at Yad Vashem where many Holocaust victims are memorialized

I saw some of the teens standing and looking at the photos of victims and watching interviews with survivors with tears running down their faces. They heard stories about children who had witnessed their parents’ murders, women who had killed their own babies rather than have them sent to a concentration camp, schoolchildren who showed up in the morning for class only to find fellow students or a teacher had ‘disappeared’ overnight. Many decades after the events being described the survivors could still recall their experiences in disturbing detail.

One room in the museum was completely dark save for thousands of tiny twinkling lights on the ceiling. Each light is there in memory of a child who died in the Holocaust and while you walk through the room their names are being whispered.

Just as you leave the museum you read a poem by Andre Schwarz –Bart wrote after the Holocaust ended. He has inserted the names of concentration camps into a prayer of praise. He is glad the Holocaust is over but how to deal with its reality? He leaves the reader trying to answer the question- Where was God during the Holocaust?

Later that afternoon our group went to Bethlehem and visited a Palestinian refugee camp. We heard the stories of children who had been shot by Israeli snipers while playing soccer. wall aidaWe saw the wall that has been built by the Israelis around the Palestinian territory. It was covered with graffiti and in places marked by bullet holes. We heard the story of a young Palestinian woman who was refused an exit visa to study medicine at the university where she had received a scholarship. aida camp palestineWe met people who have never been able to return to their family properties because more than a half-century ago their homes and land were taken over by the Israelis. An aid worker, who was our guide said it is ironic that anyone can convert to Judaism anywhere in the world and get an Israeli passport, but a Palestinian whose family has lived in Israel for generations cannot get an Israeli passport and therefore has difficulty travelling anywhere outside of Israel.          

graffiti refugee camp palestineJust as our Holocaust museum visit raised difficult questions for my students so did our visit to the Palestinian refugee compound. One girl wrote in her journal, “God whose son was called the Prince of Peace must be very sad about the things that are happening in His Promised Land.”

Many people make pilgrimages to the ‘Holy Land’ of Israel in search of answers.   I took a group of students to the ‘Holy Land’ of Israel and we left with our heads full of difficult questions.

Other posts about Israel……..

I Never Got Used to the Guns

Gender Inequity at the Wailing Wall

Looking for God in the Wrong Places



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Filed under Education, israel, Politics, Religion