Journey from Darkness to the Light: Exploring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
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My seven-day trip in Winnipeg involves a visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which is the first national museum built outside the capital region and features the issue, stories, and movement of human rights in an interactive form.
The museum has eight levels; level 1 to level 7 feature different human rights issues and events for visitors to explore, learn, and think about human rights. Each theme is not only geared towards the human rights movement in Canada only, but also all over the world, to facilitate discussions and reflection.
My Experience at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
My guided tour begins at the first level, where the digital multimedia projection was shown with characters writing different languages. Level 2 takes us to the introduction of human rights and interactive videos that reveal how different race were unequally treated and how they fight for their freedom. I recommend that you watch the 360-degree film in a circular theater made of curved wooden slats, which allows you to know more about the indigenous rights and responsibilities. Not to say that the theater itself is a work of art worth exploring.
The most remarkable exhibition of human rights issues is in Level 4, Examining the Holocaust. The exhibit reveals how Nazi use their rights and power to deprive the basic rights of others, and how most people went along and remained silent. One thing I still remember when exploring the Holocaust exhibition was a picture portrayed the workers at the Nazi camps. They were all dressed in the uniforms with smiles on their faces, as if it was Christmas morning. From the picture, you could assume they are normal citizens like us if you have no idea who they really were. The tour guide mentioned they were human too, and shared his thoughts on the genocide and the importance of respecting everyone as a human.
Level 7 focuses on the inspiring change, where visitors can reflect, write down the thoughts of their own role on human rights, and together to prompt a positive social change. You can also read other people’s ideas and contemplate your own.
A visit to the Israel Asper Tower of Hope
The Israel Asper Tower of Hope is on the Level 8 and it is the same height as a 23-storey building. To get to the tower, you can either take the elevator from the 7th floor or walk through the winding stairs. Once you get there, you can have a 360-degree view of Winnipeg, and the main street where the Winnipeg General Strike took place in 1919 that marked the reform of the labor law.
The journey from Level 1 to Level 8 is from darkness to the light. The lower level was made of dark material, and the ramps were long and were built by basalt columns. At the top, you can finally emerge from the dark to see the light. This unique design reflects the journey of human rights – it has some dark moments, it has many twists and turns, but it also rewarding and worth it in the end.
I was equally amazed by the wide array of multimedia presentations and projections the museum has in store for us, the beautiful beading patterns made by Métis, and how first nations fight for their own land and freedom. The museum itself is an art piece, with the interior, ramps, and digital media presentations showed in an artistic form.
Overall, it was a wonderful afternoon exploring the Canadian Museum For Human Rights and learning about the human rights history and the movement. I concluded my visit with a walk in the Garden of Contemplation. After seeing many not-so-good moments in the human rights history, it is normal to feel emotional and depressed. When you are overwhelmed, the Garden of Contemplation offers a peaceful ambiance for you to ponder and relax.
When my visit is over, I had a relaxing stroll on the Provencher Bridge, where I had an excellent view of downtown, Saint Boniface, and the museum itself, which leads me home.
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