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Weaving Threads for Hope in New Exhibit at CMHR

July 20, 2016 1:07 PM | Entertainment

Empowering Women - CMHR

Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities opens Saturday, July 23 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. (CMHR / HANDOUT)

WINNIPEG — The progression of human rights around the world can be traced back to how female-run cooperatives had an impact.

A new exhibit opening this weekend at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will delve into the work of women who strived for a better standing of living.

“Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities” uses colourful folk art objects, images and video to make stories come alive from 11 countries. It includes objects that visitors are encouraged to touch, and an immersive virtual reality experience.

“Most of these women continue to face challenges — sometimes to their very survival,” said CMHR president and CEO John Young. “But the fabrics they weave and the products they create contain threads of hope for the future.”

Visitors will be transported to Guatemala through a virtual reality experience, where Indigenous Maya women use weaving cooperatives to improve their lives and heal after years of war and genocide.

A 360-degree video, filmed by CMHR staff while in Guatemala last winter to meet the women, will play in the museum’s gallery and is available to view through the CMHR app.

“The co-ops can become places of reconciliation and healing,” said CMHR curator Armando Perla. “Many of these women have lived through gross human rights abuses and, by talking together day after day, it allows some healing to occur.”

The exhibit will open Saturday, July 23, with two women from Guatemala holding a weaving demonstration in the Level 6 Expressions gallery. Their products will be available for purchase Saturday and Sunday.

Programming will be offered in the gallery daily from noon to 4 p.m. until September. The Empowering Women exhibit will call the CMHR home until January 8, 2017.