Journey from Darkness to the Light: Exploring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

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 Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Level 2: you can watch the 360-degree film in a circular theater made of curved wooden slats

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.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights level 7 Inspiring Change
Level 7 Inspiring Change: you can think about human rights and write down your thoughts

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 Canadian Museum for Human Rights
View of the Main Street from the Israel Asper Tower of Hope

Final thoughts

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.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Digital multimedia projections on the level 1

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.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Provencher Bridge

Thank you to both Canadian Museum of Human Rights and Tourism Winnipeg for supporting my visit. As usual, my opinions are my own.

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Spending an afternoon exploring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba #Canada

 

 

 

Julie Cao

Julie Cao is a travel blogger, travel writer, and global citizen currently living in Toronto Ontario.

20 thoughts on “Journey from Darkness to the Light: Exploring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

  • March 6, 2017 at 10:02 pm
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    It is so touching! Isn’t it amazing that humanity is about the rights today? I hope that more and more countries hear about this and accept this! This museum is a must visit.
    When I was in the 11th grade we got to visit Auschwitz … and I believe that everyone should do so too to shape inner kindness and humanity.

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    • June 15, 2017 at 3:48 am
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      Thanks Veronica. Yes this museum is great and some parts touch our souls deeply and make us think. I also believe everyone should visit there to re-ignite their kindness and humanity.

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  • March 7, 2017 at 2:51 pm
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    That sounds like such an interesting museum! The name itself is such an eyecatcher. Will remember if I should ever make it to Candada. 🙂
    xx finja | http://www.effcaa.com

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  • March 7, 2017 at 5:02 pm
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    The museum sounds really fascinating. If I’m ever over that direction in Canada, I’ll be sure to check it out. Great photos too!

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  • March 8, 2017 at 12:21 pm
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    This museum looks amazing and the way you wrote it made it more interesting. That was quite a big museum though, with 8 levels, and you are very observant about it being dark to light.

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    • June 15, 2017 at 3:49 am
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      Thanks Gracie! I believe the museum has special design itself from Level 1 to Level 8. From dark to light reflects the process and struggle of fighting for human rights, but it is worthwhile.

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  • March 9, 2017 at 3:14 am
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    Thank you for sharing! I visited Winnipeg a long time ago, and I didn’t know this place existed (or maybe wasn’t opened then in 2001). I would probably consider this as a dark tourism, and you described the place pretty detail.
    Travel safe!

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    • June 15, 2017 at 3:51 am
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      Canadian Museum for Human Rights is opened in 2008 and if you ever visit Winnipeg, be sure to visit. It is really a great place to make us think.

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  • March 9, 2017 at 4:44 pm
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    This reminds me a lot of the African American History Museum in Washington DC. It has many levels and each builds on the last level sort of a darkness to light like you were saying. The museum does look great and sounds like it really is a piece of art as well. I like the idea of the garden at the end as well.

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    • June 15, 2017 at 3:53 am
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      I went to the garden twice as I felt a bit overwhelmed. I missed the African American History Museum when I was in DC, as there are too many good museums in the capital of USA. I will make sure to visit that museum if I ever visit DC again.

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  • March 10, 2017 at 6:05 am
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    Wow….that is a great place to be. Definitely a place to check out when in Canada.

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  • March 10, 2017 at 6:50 am
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    Great to see a museum on Human Rights. I have seen all sorts of museums but this is the first one on human rights. It does strengthen the image of Canada is a responsible country too.

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    • June 15, 2017 at 3:55 am
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      Canada is more receptive to other ethnicity and nations, and this museum still have parts depicts the human rights struggle of Canada in the early years. Hope you get to visit Winnipeg and the museum sometime.

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  • March 11, 2017 at 2:15 pm
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    wow! a museum for human rights! canada is really something huh? Hoping to visit this someday!

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  • March 11, 2017 at 7:31 pm
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    Looks like you had a great day out. I love all the interactive exhibitions too – makes you think even more closely about how important Human Rights are.

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    • June 15, 2017 at 3:56 am
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      I also love how the interactive exhibitions make us think. Thanks Emma for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  • March 12, 2017 at 12:00 am
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    Thank you for sharing this museum. My goal is to visit different museum’s by 2019 and I’ll be putting this one on my list. Human rights are very important right now. I can’t wait to see this.

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    • June 15, 2017 at 3:57 am
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      That is a fabulous goal. Make sure to write about your visit and keep me updated.

      Reply
  • March 13, 2017 at 3:00 am
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    This museum sounds interesting. I love the idea of what level 7 offers and the ability to reflect and even read what other people have to say.

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  • March 15, 2017 at 9:21 pm
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    What a wonderful place to visit. I would love to walk through the Garden of Contemplation. I’ll have to add it to my Canada must-see list for our next trip.

    Reply

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