|Office of Joy Smith, M.P.
|Bureau de Joy Smith, députée
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2011
Canadian Museum for Human Rights An Important
Beacon Of Hope
Winnipeg, MB: With the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) scheduled for completion in the summer of 2012, Winnipeg is on the verge of being home to a world class museum on human rights. This museum will compel visitors to explore the topic of human rights and stimulate reflection, dialogue and a greater respect for all human beings.
In 2008, Parliament passed Bill C-42 which established the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as the first new national museum in Canada in more than 40 years and, with its Winnipeg location, the first to be created outside the National Capital Region. Our federal government committed $100 million toward the building of the museum and to the annual operating budget of this national institution.
Since I was first elected in 2004, I worked diligently to secure funding for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and its Winnipeg location. From day one, I have been a strong supporter of the CMHR and this support remains unchanged today. I also want to commend those who have been working hard to develop the vision and plan for the CMHR including the CMHR Board of Trustees, the Friends of the CMHR, and most notably Gail Asper.
Human rights are fundamental to the continuation of all societies. Understanding and visiting the grave abuses of our past permanently touches our souls and sparks a response in our hearts. This is the intrinsic value of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. As such, it is fitting that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights chronicles egregious abuses of human rights, especially the Holocaust and the Holodomor genocides.
The Holocaust stands out amongst the many human rights violations over the past century. It demonstrated the systematic and state sponsored killings of 6 million Jewish people including over 1 million Jewish children. Under Hitler, the attempted annihilation of the Jewish people was the result of a decade of Nazi policy, the “Final Solution.” The horrors of the Holocaust would lead to the international recognition and condemnation of the act of genocide.
It is important to note, however, that the Holodomor also stands out amongst this past century’s state sponsored acts of mass murder. Taking place seven years before Hitler’s Holocaust began; the Holodomor genocide set a horrific precedent of the targeted extermination of a specific population by a ruling state. Stalin’s Communist government engineered a famine to literally starve the Ukrainian people to death. It is estimated that between 7-10 million Ukrainian men, women and children, died watching as their own grain was exported to Communist Russia. Yet, the Holodomor genocide did not receive recognition because Stalin and Communist Russia hid this atrocity through denial and decades of disinformation. Nevertheless, it is likely that Stalin’s Holodomor was an archetype of mass slaughter for Hilter’s Holocaust. Hitler would have witnessed the silence in the wake of the Holodomor by the international community.
Today, throughout the world, we continue to witness terrible acts of brutality on targeted populations and races. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is of utmost importance for all generations of Canadians, for it will expose and unfold history’s human rights abuses and exhort us to prevent further abuse. Thus, the reality of the Holocaust and the Holodomor, with the gravity and magnitude of their devastation, must be displayed with prominence among the other galleries and exhibits.
The CMHR will also serve the important function of documenting the progress of human rights in Canada as well as heroes and advocates for improved human rights. The CMHR has invited people across Canada to submit stories of those who have overcome oppression, challenged discrimination, and stood up for human rights. These submissions will create a tapestry of stories ranging from the experiences of immigrants who came to Canada seeking a better life to everyday heroes fighting for rights of others.
At the CMHR ground breaking ceremony in December 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “Together, we are building a monument to Canada’s embrace of humanity’s highest ideals. Throughout Canada’s history, wave after wave of immigrants fleeing oppression, persecution, and tyranny have found sanctuary, justice, and freedom on our shores.” The Prime Minister’s reflection truly captures the story of Canada, a country built collectively by those who overcame great obstacles and oppression.
I am so proud of our country, our province and of all Manitobans for supporting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, centred in the heart of our nation, will tell this great story and be a Beacon of Hope for decades to come.
Joy Smith, B.Ed., M.Ed,
Member of Parliament
Kildonan – St. Paul
– 30 –
For more information please contact:
Chief of Staff
Office of Joy Smith, MP
Phone: (613) 992-7148
Email: [email protected]