Groundbreaking Video

Uploaded by HumanRightsMuseum on 25.03.2011

A dream becomes reality 2012
Canadian Museum for Human Rights Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Ground Breaking Event, December 19, 2008 Patrick OíReilly ó Chief Operating Officer,
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Good afternoon, and welcome to the groundbreaking ceremony that will mark construction of the
Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Today we are taking part in the symbolic sod-turning ceremony to mark the beginning of construction
of the new museum. And what better way to begin this event marking an important stage
in the life of our country than to join together in singing our national anthem. I would now
like to invite musicians from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the youth choir with
students from Dufferin and Mulvey schools here in Winnipeg, to lead us in singing this
morning. Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the singing of the national anthem.
Youth Choir ó Students from Mulvey and Dufferin Schools
(singing) O Canada Patrick OíReilly ó Chief Operating Officer,
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Ladies and gentlemen, 2008 has been a remarkable year. We saw the Government of Prime Minister
Harper table in Parliament an historic bill to amend the Museums Act seeking to create
Canada's fifth national museum. All parties in Parliament supported the bill, and in record
time both Houses of Parliament gave their approval. In August, the Governor General
named eight eminent Canadians to the board of trustees, and at their first meeting in
September, they appointed the first senior staff of the Museum. Our small team of staff,
with the support of our board of trustees, the Friends of the Museum and numerous partners,
has undertaken the monumental task of planning our building and our operations.
At the same time, weíve begun to plan for when the doors open, in about three years.
Weíve envisioned that, through those doors, Canadians, and indeed visitors from around
the world, will access challenging and inspiring content. We recognize the challenge that Winnipeggers,
Manitobans and Canadians have set out before us, and we recognize that the world is watching.
Our imaginations have been captured by the iconic design by Antoine Predock for our new
home. Setting up a tent in Winnipeg, in the middle of December, for a groundbreaking ceremony
is not a likely choice, just as building a national museum outside of the National Capital
Region may not have seemed, at one time, a likely choice. But youíre in the tent with
us today because you believed in the dream. Your presence here today is proof that this
dream has become a reality. Your presence demonstrates a commitment and passion for
what this museum represents: a place for dialogue, reflection, inspiration and action.
The Honourable James Moore ó Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
Good afternoon, everyone. I am delighted to be here for the groundbreaking ceremony for
Canadaís newest national museum. This exciting initiative is the first national museum to
be established in Canada in forty years and the first one to be located outside of the
National Capital Region in our history. The very history associated with The Forks makes
this an ideal location. After all, it was here that many of Canadaís First Peoples
met in an effort to resolve their differences peacefully.
By building a museum entirely devoted to respect for human rights, we honour that tradition
of peaceful co-existence. All levels of government in Canada have shown their commitment to promoting
human rights and combating racism. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a fine example
of our common work to achieve these goals.
The Government of Canada is proud to have played a leading role in the development of
this national museum, along with the Province of Manitoba, the City of Winnipeg and of course,
the generous donations of private sponsors led by the Friends of the Canadian Museum
for Human Rights.
Now I have both the pleasure and the privilege of introducing our next speaker. Ladies and
gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable
Stephen Harper. Right Honourable Stephen Harper ó Prime Minister
of Canada
Thank you, James, for that kind introduction.
Greetings to Premier Doer, Deputy Mayor Swandel and to all my colleagues.
Greetings as well to the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and members of the
Asper family.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, it is fitting that we should come together to break ground on the site
of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Todayís ceremony is a historic moment in the story of human rights in Canada. Together
we are building a monument to Canadaís embrace of humanityís highest ideals.
This monument will, fittingly, be placed here at The Forks, an historic meeting place for
Canadaís Aboriginal peoples, where Iím told they engaged not only in trade and commerce,
but also met to peacefully resolve their differences.
The spectacular building that will arise on this site will be a place where future generations
of Canadians and visitors from around the world can learn about the history of human
rights in Canada, and be inspired to build on this proud legacy.
Throughout Canadaís history, wave after wave of immigrants fleeing oppression, persecution
and tyranny have found sanctuary, justice and freedom on our shores.
Together we have built the most peaceful and prosperous country the world has ever known.
Our political culture is anchored in the best traditions of our founding peoples: the British
limitations on the power of the rulers, first enshrined in the Magna Carta; the French articulation
of individual rights in the Declaration of the Rights of Man; and the consensual, restorative
justice traditions practised by our First Peoples.
Canada wove these ideals into the constitutional fabric of our nation, beginning with the British
North America Act through the Bill of Rights, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Charter
of Rights and Freedoms. And to this day we continue to refine and expand our rights protections
to ensure that all Canadians enjoy freedom of speech, assembly and worship, equality
before the law and fully representative and responsible government.
Iíd like to thank the man whose idea it was to pay homage to Canadaís noble human rights
tradition, the late Izzy Asper.
This museum, the realization of his extraordinary vision, will serve as the capstone of his
As Izzy himself said: ìIn order to understand why a countryís worth having, you have to
know where it came from.î
Iíd also like to thank the Asper family for their tireless efforts to see Izzyís dream
through to fruition, as well as Premier Doer and Mayor Katz for their generous support
for this worthy endeavour.
And finally, of course, Iíd like to thank all the private citizens whoíve donated ó
and donated substantially óto this project.
Often moved by deeply personal reasons, thousands of Canadians are contributing to Izzyís dream.
They include, among others, Wendy Hayward-Miskiewicz of Winnipeg, whose son James was killed in
Afghanistan last summer. Corporal Hayward Arnal, a man described by his commanding officer
as ìutterly fearless,î gave his life defending the values this museum will celebrate, namely
freedom, democracy and human rights.
Let us all work together to protect our families and our future.
It is the responsibility of all of us to keep our land, Canada, glorious and free.
Thank you very much. Patrick OíReilly ó Chief Operating Officer,
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will place not only Manitoba, but all of Canada,
at the forefront of human rights advancements worldwide. Please join me in welcoming Premier
Gary Doer. The Honourable Gary Doer ó Premier of Manitoba
Thank you Patrick. Prime Minister Harper, Elders. It is interesting to note that the
grandfather of one of the members of this wonderful choir that was singing O Canada
for all of us this afternoon is in the audience to help bless the soil later on. I think thatís
very fitting for all of us because this has always been a project that brought together
the generations in Manitoba and in Canada. It is certainly a ceremony to celebrate today,
with the sod-turning and the dirt-shovelling exercise, but it has been made possible, as
the Prime Minister said, by of all you that have come together to raise the funds. It
has been made possible by the vision and the strength of the late Izzy Asper, who told
us that we had to not only build this museum for human rights, we had to build it outside
of the Capital Region of Canada, in Winnipeg, and we had to make sure it was a world-class
facility and program located here at The Forks. The announcement of making this Canadian Museum
for Human Rights a national cultural institution to be located outside of the Capital Region,
in the gateway of the West, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and to have all of those operating
investments go into this national institution, has made it possible to shovel this dirt today
and move forward in this museum. I want to thank the Prime Minister on the behalf of
all of us for this leadership.
I even remember one of the media questions, ìWhy is this different?î Well, the operating
costs year over year over year, the net present value is significant, but the passion and
policy is even more important to locate institutions in all regions of Canada and that is why this
announcement today is also very, very significant.
And what better place than the gateway to the West, in Winnipeg, and Western Canada
in terms of human rights. Weíve had histories of B.C. being the first province to have new
Canadians have the right to vote, the human right to vote. We have the example of the
Personís case in Alberta where all our daughters and all our sons are treated equally with
that case. We have of course John Diefenbaker from Saskatchewan coming from Prince Albert
providing First Nations people in 1960 the right to vote here in Canada. And of course
in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1916 and 17 the debate took place and Manitoba women were
the first ones to receive the right to vote in Canada. So thatís a significant reason
why Western Canada.
And this is a vision that I think will be received by people and youth in particular
across Canada and across the world. Itís a very powerful message that against some
of the issues of cynicism that we deal with every day, that there is indeed hope that
can start with one person standing up for the human rights of their fellow citizens
here in Canada. And so thatís why, when we turn the sod today weíre celebrating a cultural
institution that says to everyone from sea to sea to sea, that each and every individual
can make a difference, and this Human Rights Museum will make sure that they all know that
this is possible.
Thank you very, very much. Congratulations. Justin Swandel ó Deputy Mayor of Winnipeg
As your deputy mayor, itís an honour to be here today on behalf of Mayor Sam Katz, as
we get shovels into the ground and bring Winnipeg a step closer to the realization of the Canadian
Museum for Human Rights. This dynamic project symbolizes the spirit of our city, its rich
culture and our passionate citizenry. What began as the remarkable dream of Izzy Asper
will soon be a shining star, symbolizing a world of tolerance, unity and acceptance,
right here in one of North Americaís most culturally diverse urban centres.
I can tell you that Winnipeggers are immensely proud to be home to the only museum in the
world dedicated to human rights. Patrick OíReilly ó Chief Operating Officer,
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Ladies and gentlemen, our next speaker needs no introduction. If anyone has lived and breathed
this museum for the past seven years, it is Gail Asper. Her leadership and tenacity have
been instrumental in bringing us here today for this momentous occasion.
Sheís led the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Humans Rights in a fundraising campaign
that has raised one hundred and two million dollars to date. Sheís taken the dream, as
weíve heard today, that her father, the late Izzy Asper, had for this museum, and sheís
lived it with unparalleled passion and dedication, working to make the dream a reality.
Please join me in welcoming Gail Asper. Gail Asper O.C., O.M., LL.D.
National Campaign Chair ó Friend of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
As you can imagine, this is a terribly exciting moment for me and my family and our passionately
dedicated staff, our pathologically loyal volunteers and our breathtakingly generous
supporters. I am of course extremely happy to be here with all of you to celebrate this
extraordinary event. Just over five years ago, I stood here with many others to participate
in another ceremony for the Museum, organized by the relentlessly determined and heartbroken
Moe Levy. And it was an unprecedented act of faith and I thank him, because only days
before, we had mourned the sudden death of our mentor and inspiration, and taskmaster
extraordinaire, my father, Izzy Asper. And with the deal not sealed, zero funds raised
and the leader gone, many thought the improbable if not the impossible dream of a National
Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg died with him. But it didnít because we didnít let
it. It was the faith of all these people that kept the dream alive and kept me determined
until another leader appeared on the scene, the leader we needed, who came forward to
make the dream a reality, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
My father only knew how to make big plans and his favourite axiom was ìnever do a little
deal.î He taught me and this community and this nation, even after his death, how to
aim high and reach those stars. This museum was envisioned as a way to improve the social
condition in Canada and around the world, to ensure that we, as citizens, never remain
bystanders in the face of evil. It was John Peters Humphrey, after all, who 60 years ago
this month said, ìthereís a fundamental connection between human rights and peace.
We will have peace on earth when everyoneís rights are respected.î I hope that we all
remember December 19, 2008, as the day in which a momentous and monumental gift was
given to the world, thanks to the leadership of our Prime Minister and the faith of thousands
of Canadians who made it happen.
Merry Christmas to you all, Happy Hanukkah, peace on earth. Thank you.
Arni C. Thorsteinson Chair, Board of Trustees, Canadian Museum
for Human Rights
As a proud Canadian resident in Manitoba, Iím very honoured to be the founding chair
of the first national museum outside of Ottawa. This project represents an unprecedented challenge
and opportunity for Manitoba and Canada to create the North American equivalent of the
Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, and we truly believe that in 10 years from now, the
Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, will gain the same recognition
and bring the same prestige and economic benefits to Winnipeg, Canada.
Thank you for joining us to celebrate this important milestone.
Thank you again. Patrick OíReilly ó Chief Operating Officer,
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Ladies and gentlemen, The Forks has been a meeting place for thousands of years. As the
Prime Minister told us, people of all nations have come to not only conduct trade, but to
settle disputes peacefully. It is therefore fitting that we honour the land that will
be home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, through a laying down of tobacco ceremony.
Please join me in warmly welcoming Jules and Margaret Lavallee.
Jules and Margaret Lavallee Elders
I love the opportunity to be here, to be here on this land, which means so, so much to us,
as the original people. There are three generations of my family here today. Thank you, Premier
Doer, for acknowledging that. My granddaughter is partÖ her name is Sydney Cri. There is
my granddaughter. She is part of the singers from Dufferin School today. And my son and
my daughter-in-law are going to be part of the ceremony and of course, my wife. We are
going to be offering tobacco where this ground will be broken, and that tobacco will be offered
with prayers. The ceremony of the tobacco offering has been among us for years and years
and years and years and when we put it down, it's to honour a dream, itís to honour a
vision, itís to honour an idea.
(Singing) We Are All One People