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Winnipeg – The Canadian Museum of Human Rights by Ann Treacy
April 8, 2016, 3:51 pm
Filed under: Winnipeg

Lily and I are in Winnipeg looking at colleges. Yay! It’s only a 7 hour drive from home. It’s a very easy drive so here we are. We’re going to check out the universities today – but yesterday we went to check out the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. First impressions – the people are so kind and the building is amazing.

We only had an hour so we had to rush but we started at the top – the palm-sweat inducing top of tower of the glass building and made our way down. I think we found the sections on the Native communities most striking. There’s a Witness Blanket, which isn’t really a blanket, it’s a like a shelf of favorite, lost or forgotten items that is inspired by a woven blanket. It’s includes patterns like a quit and has the feeling of memory that you might get looking at a family quilt.

It is created in memory of the Native children who were taken from their homes and sent to boarding schools. A terrible atrocity that tears apart families and causes a people to lose a language, which I think is a big step toward erasing a memory of a people. How do you remember when your words are gone?

Contributions to The Witness Blanket were donated by residential school survivors and their families, band offices, friendship centers and governments. Other items were reclaimed from former residential school sites. Those responsible for the school system – churches and the Canadian federal government – have also donated pieces for this installation as a gesture towards reconciliation.

The museum itself is filled with tremendous information – mostly the brave people who speak up and act up for human rights. Lily asked a good question about why we know so much about the Holocaust and so little about terrible events in other parts of the world – generally non-Western areas. It’s a god question that answers itself. This museum is clearly one step in changing that. With the advent of the Internet and increasing access to broadband I think we have no excuse to learn more about what has happened in different parts of the world and sadly what is still going on.

On a lighter note, the people were amazing. We talked to one museum worker who met Hillary Clinton at the Museum. He gave Lily some tips on how to get a job there when she comes up for school. And one very lovely young women gave us a bird eye tour of the city from the tower. I asked if she would give us the 2-minute rundown of what we were seeing. She did much better and pointed out everything a future student might need to know – from where to hand deliver your water payment if your bill was late to where to get a tattoo or fun dinner. Which led us to a very tasty dinner at Deseo Bistro. They found a way to split the gnocchi so that Lily (veggie) and I (meat lover) were both happen. (Also a tribute to the power of bacon!)

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