Brief showers and rumbles of thunder couldn’t dampen the official opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Friday.
Winnipeg is housing the first national museum in Canada outside of Ottawa. It opened during a 90-minute ceremony with guests of honour from all political stripes, including Governor General David Johnston.
“We open these doors so that all who enter will be reminded of a simple but profound truth — we can make a difference in this world,” said museum president and CEO Stuart Murray. “Taking up the cause of human rights requires no special training. It demands no formal study or special skill. The tools of change are those with which we are already endowed: understanding, respect, courage and an open heart.”
Opening ceremonies began with an indigenous blessing led by Elders, including a First Nations prayer, a Métis prayer and the lighting of an Inuit qulliq. Celebrated singer Ginette Reno performed O Canada.
The inspiration for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights came from the late media magnate Israel Asper, a philanthropist and entrepreneur. Asper’s children were seated among dignitaries at the front of the museum, which recently renamed its street to Israel Asper Way.
Known for its stunning architecture, the $351 million museum was designed by world-renowned architect Antoine Predock. The Tower of Hope, Tyndall limestone and glass design all help to form an iconic silhouette on Winnipeg’s skyline.
Paid public admission to the museum begins Saturday, September 27.