Monday, 22 September 2014

The World's First National Human Rights Museum

The new Canadian Museum for Human Rights welcomed its first visitors last weekend, with dignitaries and some lucky Manitobans receiving a guided tour before regular hours start this Saturday.

I was lucky enough to be one of those Manitobans and I was happy - maybe even excited - to be one of the first to visit this one-of-a-kind museum. I believe the struggle for human rights is ongoing and I wondered if this museum would agree with me or be more focused on looking back at all the ugly parts of history that we all know so well.

Slavery, check. Colonialism, check. Racism, check. Of course all those topics were covered, but these egregious acts were not the focal point of the museum. Instead, this museum is about learning from the past with the goal of building a better future. By using symbolism and telling a multitude of stories, old and new, this museum emphasizes the common threads in Humanity.

There are references to the awful residential schools system, which is less than two decades old and still impacts many people in ways most Canadians are completely oblivious to. And while I personally agree with those who want this atrocity referred to as 'genocide', I would still urge any skeptics to visit the museum.

Visitors are reminded that we are on 'Treaty 1 Land' and the 'Indigenous Perspectives' exhibit includes beautiful works of art done by local artists. Indigenous culture permeates throughout the building and even the original piles that form the foundation were all buried with a traditional medicine bag.

This was not your typical museum experience. One interesting area included an interactive art exhibit where a group of people would stand on a big blank circle. As you step on the ground, a colourful light surrounds your feet, but as you get closer to another person that light blends with their light and creates more dynamic artwork. The more people standing close together, the more dynamic the lights and ribbons surrounding you. This was an artistic rendition of the power of cooperation and it was fun for the kids too.

Unfortunately, this was the only interactive exhibit that we were able to try during the limited tour. I would have liked to try the consoles where you get to act as Canada's Supreme Court and make decisions on landmark human rights cases. Also, everyone wanted to ride the elevator up to the Tower of Hope, where you can get a better view of Winnipeg than the Golden Boy, but that experience would have to wait.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a testament to the power of Canadian culture. The museum beautifully blends the story of our nation with the need for greater international cooperation and understanding. This museum implicitly asks Canadians to live up to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is currently in the museum's possession.

After years of fundraising, building, and fundraising some more, the final structure is an impressive addition to Winnipeg's skyline. It is located at the historic forks location where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet, where settlers once traded furs and Canada signed its first treaty with First Nations people 143 years ago.

Now, the hope is, visitors from across the country and the world will converge here to learn from past atrocities and contribute to building a more egalitarian world. A world governed by, what we can proudly call, Canadian values.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Big Canadian Welcome!

Welcome to Coast to Coast to Coast!

This blog will dive into many interesting and often uncovered aspects of Canadian culture. I will be exploring how a country with such a variety of world views continues to thrive peacefully and with a clear common interest.

Are we a multicultural society? Of course we are.

During our relatively young history, we have now invited people from all over the world to join us in building a new kind of country - truly for everyone and created by everyone.

Among other things, this blog will look at the way First Nations' culture has helped shape the Canadian identity and how every culture since has added to the tapestry of our distinct nation.

Aside from culture, I will also explore the unexplainable. My blog's name pays homage to the wacky 'Coast to Coast AM' radio show which offers an odd, some would say fringe, perspective on the current world we live in.

With that in mind, I will always be on the search for interesting topics, not necessarily rooted in scientific facts.

Do you have an unusual story about a Canadian experience that you'd like to share? Hit me up on Twitter @D_A_Koroma with the hashtag #CdnCoasts and I'll try to share it on my blog!

My name's David and I'm a Creative Communications student at Red River College, so you may find some off-topic content from time to time. Also, every blog post will also have a quote of the day, with no more than one post per day.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Quote of the Day: "It's true that you gain your soul when you lose control." - k-os