Thanks, Angela, for the introduction and for emceeing our inaugural annual public meeting.
Merci à tous d’être parmi nous aujourd’hui.
Nous sommes très content de voir un bon nombre de nos partenaires ici aujourd’hui.
Thank you -- everyone -- for joining us today.
I’m exceptionally grateful that so many of our partners are with us today, both here in the room and virtually --
The educators, the business and community leaders, the students, the elders, the activists, advocates and individual citizens who have joined us in this journey.
This journey is like no other. There has been no path set out for us. We are path making and are driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. You won’t be at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights merely as a visitor because we don’t view those who come through our doors just as guests. We see those who come to the museum as our partners. We see them as agents of change. And, of course, the word “change” evokes a process, and consistent with the language of the mission we’ve set out for ourselves, we describe the visitor experience as a “journey.” This journey will be about learning, empowerment, and action. We will shine light in dark corners; amplify the voices of those who have been silenced, and encourage people to take a stand for human rights.
From the Museum’s “roots” and rising up from the ground, visitors will ascend through the galleries by a series of ramps, visiting over 47,000 ft2 of exhibit space, encountering captivating stories of struggle, perseverance, resilience, hope and triumph. Through this journey, we will paint a broad vision of human rights to help our visitors appreciate and understand what we mean when we talk about looking at the world through a human rights lens.
The Museum will provide visitors with a space for dialogue about human rights issues, it will encourage visitors to reflect on how human rights affect their own lives, and it will inspire visitors to take action in their communities and abroad. We’ll hear about the exhibits in more detail later in the program but what is the most compelling element ofthis process is that the story of the Museum must be read in all of its chapters. It is through this entire journey that the story must be told. And we don’t want the journey to end when you leave our doors. We want it to continue long after, with a better appreciation of different perspectives, with a sense of the human rights journey both in Canada and abroad, and ultimately inspired and challenged to take action in your home, your community, your school, your workplace and beyond.
Your insight, your experience and your passion for this project are already shaping this magnificent institution.
I want to extend my sincere thanks for your contributions, but more than that, I want to thank you for challenging us always to keep reaching higher;
to seek out the different angle;
to listen to the other voice;
to ensure we are building a museum that truly reflects the best and highest ideals our country can offer.
I’d like to acknowledge the tremendous contributions of each member of the Board of Trustees.
Most of all, I want to offer profound and sincere thanks to our talented, dedicated, impossibly hardworking staff.
Un grand merci à notre personnel exceptionnel.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is blessed with some of Canada’s most creative; most accomplished and most respected professionals in their fields.
Not only do we benefit from their talent, we benefit from their remarkable commitment.
In many cases, these are people who left highly rewarding positions elsewhere so that they could be in Winnipeg to invest in this community and help build the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
The hours are long and the work is intense, but the Museum will ultimately succeed because of your contribution.
As the Chair carefully noted, of course, bringing the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to life takes much more than our efforts as an organization. This is a distinctly Canadian effort, and this has been a year of expanding the collaboration and conversation that the Chair spoke of earlier.
Canadians have set a high bar for this Museum.
Canadians expect excellence. They expect us to get this right.
The most critical aspect of our journey is to meet the high standards Canadians have set out for us.
I want to speak with you today about that journey.
J’aimerais vous parler de ce trajet aujourd’hui.
Both our successes and challenges.
What we’ve learned along the way.
What’s working well, and what we’re taking the time to give more focus to as we build this conversation with Canadians across the country.
In so many areas we’re making clear progress. Each of us in this room is entitled to a distinct sense of pride today.
Even a few months ago when I’d give a speech about the Museum, I’d run through the numbers -- the volume of concrete and steel in the building; how the Museum is a third taller than the Golden Boy -- but I no longer have to rely on statistics to illustrate the magnitude of the structure. You can now see it for yourself either in person or online through the Museum’s website.
The progress has been phenomenal. The building is already redefining both the Winnipeg skyline and the human rights landscape of our country.
Most of Canada knows there is a renaissance now happening in Winnipeg.
The new James A. Richardson international airport and Centre Port. The return of NHL hockey and the Winnipeg Jets. Major downtown renewal through the work of Centre Venture. The revitalization of the city’s signature public park – the Assiniboine Park.
We are very proud that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is at the fore of this very positive and very momentous change.
Let me be very clear: even if you never step foot in the Museum when it’s done, if you are in this city, you will be a beneficiary of the Museum’s presence here in the heart of Canada.
The economic benefits of this project are already being realized.
The construction project alone has created the equivalent of six thousand full-time equivalent jobs.
People have come to work at the Museum from a wide variety of places - from small businesses, universities, government, and other cultural institutions. We’ve attracted top-flight academics who now have adjunct or professional affiliate appointments at our universities; people who are here with their families solely because of the Museum.
Already, our Brand and Business Development teams are making plans with organizations and agencies from around the globe to bring major international conferences to Winnipeg. These groups are, for the first time, looking at Winnipeg, Manitoba to host their conferences because the Museum is here, and our local restaurants, hotels and municipal tax base stand to benefit enormously.
The Museum and its partners recognize that the CMHR can be the catalyst that puts Winnipeg on the map as an international tourism destination.
If the success of our guided summer tours of the perimeter of the construction site proved to be any indication of the interest, we had just under 1000 Winnipeggers, Manitobans and visitors to the city join to watch first hand as this iconic building takes shape and to learn more about our project. Some of these visitors came from as far away as Australia and Turkey.
Part of this work involves welcoming international delegations and representatives from nations like Germany, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, Japan, France and China, to name a few which we did over the past year.
But the primary focus of our economic journey has been aggressive work in our target markets: tapping niche markets within the burgeoning field of human rights tourism -- a field that our organization intends to help to both brand and grow.
Similarly, development of niche revenue-generating opportunities -- fair-trade retail as one key example -- is happening now.
Why are we pursuing these opportunities? Because we’ve come to recognize that the Museum has the potential to provide a dividend much greater than changing how Canadians think about human rights, significant as that objective may be.
We believe we have a commitment to ensure the Museum delivers a clear net benefit to the wider community and provides distinct value to all Canadians, both as citizens and as taxpayers.
External studies show that the CMHR is projected to generate millions in new municipal, provincial and federal taxes alone, in perpetuity. The Manitoba Bureau of Statistics estimates total tax revenue from operations alone to be over $8M per year.
We consider this a good start.
C’est un bon début.
Aggressively pursuing new opportunities for revenue generation and economic partnership will continue to be a critical focus as we move ahead.
Of course, while we work to expand revenue-generating opportunities, we also have a distinct responsibility to be careful with every dollar we spend.
Our public funding partners -- the federal government, the Manitoba government, the City of Winnipeg -- have shown remarkable support for this Museum.
We acknowledge their vision and applaud their investment.
Merci pour votre appui.
We also recognize that this is a time of continued fiscal restraint for all governments, and just as they work to identify cost savings and reduce their own expenditures, we must also work to reduce ours.
As a growing start up organization with no blueprint for our development, imposing internal budgetary reductions at a time that we must also expand our capacity to build our exhibits is a challenging task.
That said, no part of our journey has ever been without some element of challenge, and we accept that reductions and restraint are an essential part of that journey, even as we continue to build.
As a demonstration of that restraint, I can report to you today that we will realize approximately $10 million in reductions over this fiscal year alone.
Let me give you a few examples that illustrate how we’ve achieved that.
Our published financial projections from previous years indicate we were to hire 35 new employees over this fiscal year. Instead, to reduce costs, we moved to a critical-hire basis and deferred hiring for most positions. Instead of the projected 35 new hires, as of today (December 6, 2011) the Museum has hired just 17 positions. Cost savings related to staffing are approximately $2.5 million.
We’ve cut our travel budgets. Discretionary travel costs have been cut by $0.4 million as we’ve curtailed non-essential travel and moved to hold more of our board and partner meetings by teleconference instead of in person.
Further, we’ve reduced our marketing expenditures. Many of the Friends’ ads you see now are already negotiated via sponsorship agreements and do not represent a cost to the Museum or to Friends. But we’ve gone further, trimming marketing costs by $0.6 million this year alone.
These measures are already proving their worth, and that’s because cost challenges on the capital side have also become part our journey.
This, we’ve come to know, is the raw reality of bringing one of the most ambitious architectural undertaking ever attempted in this country to life.
When our engineers discovered that poor soil conditions would require an additional investment for building supports, for example, we had to deal with that, despite it being an unforeseen challenge outside the scope of our control.
When we were advised by our engineers that the soil retention system for our roof would come in higher than forecast, we had to manage that.
As we’ve learned, unexpected capital costs aren’t fully avoidable when you’re building something this unique.
It’s for this reason we will continue to move aggressively with cost reductions on the operations side.
We know that Canadians expect fiscal prudence. Steps to reduce our operating budget wherever we can will continue.
Our fiscal pressures are not insignificant. They have direct bearing on every aspect of our operations including timelines around exhibit development and construction, major purchasing and the date that we will inaugurate our building.
We anticipate base building construction to be complete in line with our time line of 2012. We are working towards inauguration in 2014 and have aligned our project plans and work plans accordingly. We are exploring all of our options to confirm that this schedule is feasible and achievable. We will be able to confirm this date in the coming months.
But this, too, is part of our journey. The fundraising campaign behind the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the most successful in our country’s history and it is completely unprecedented amongst the other national museums. The Friends of the CMHR announced in October that $130 million in private capital has been raised to date. We are thrilled by this incredible contribution from thousands of donors. It signals broad public support the Museum and renewed fundraising momentum. From the early and ongoing leadership of Gail Asper, together with Moe Levy, to the Friends new CEO Dav Cvitkovic who will continue to grow Friends fundraising efforts across Canada and internationally, it make us more committed than ever to achieving our shared vision for the museum and thrilled at the prospect of continued collaboration.
But still we must strive to stretch each dollar as far as we can and make every dollar count.
No one said it would be easy. As some of the earliest supporters of this project – the federal, provincial, municipal and private sector partners - have reminded me, if we’d quit when things got tough, we’d never have put the first shovel in the ground.
But we did, and you can see today how far we’ve come.
Over the past year in particular, we’ve synchronized those steps with the partnerships we’ve forged with Canadians.
It gives me considerable pride, as CEO, that we are taking the time to speak directly with Canadians about this project, to not only ask for their feedback and their guidance, but to then invest the time and resources to incorporate that feedback into our work.
Without question, it’s been collaboration and consultation that best characterizes our most significant achievements from the past year.
I don’t think that any of us in a leadership position at the CMHR can overestimate the critical importance that working to build trust has had in the process of developing this project.
When we talk about human rights, we’re talking about issues that are uniquely personal. The issues around rights touch the deepest roots of our identity. How we’re seen; who we are.
Quite often, these are phenomenally raw, very emotional, very challenging issues.
The very fragility of our subject matter suggests the CMHR will never be free from controversy, and we accept this.
But merely “accepting” the reality of controversy would be the easy way out.
The more challenging task is to work in good faith to build trust, to nourish and maintain a dialogue with Canadians of every background, and I am proud of the effort our staff has invested in this regard over the past year.
You may have seen the Winnipeg Free Press story from last Sunday about the partnership the Museum has worked to build with the Chinese Canadian community.
In my view, this was a helpful snapshot of the work our team has done with myriad groups and individuals over the past 12 months.
This work continues, but I’m very proud that I can today report that our public engagement efforts have now grown to include more than 3,000 individual Canadians from every background and from every corner of Canada.
Yes, this is a significant investment of time. But the benefits are clear.
Our researchers have a very deliberate focus on what they call “participatory research.” In fact, they bring very specific expertise in this area.
Is this approach the fastest way to build a museum? Not by a long shot.
But is it the right way? To grow and nourish a conversation with the aim of dissolving barriers and building trust? We think so.
We are trying, quite deliberately, to raise the bar with regard to the way we approach research.
Our researchers are working to make what was once almost universally regarded as a purely academic exercise, allowing it to instead become a community exercise with our future visitors’ experience at the forefront.
It is a significant accomplishment that the researchers and curators on our staff have made inclusion and equity of representation their watchwords.
They’re insistent on doing things differently. They’re committed to “doing more”, and their efforts are a significant achievement of the past year that deserves acknowledgement.
So it is with initiatives like our oral histories project, which Heather will speak about in detail in a few minutes.
As people like Heather could tell you, there are much more expedient ways to collect first-person points of view without an exhaustive project like these oral histories.
But our people were insistent that to do justice to the lived experience of these individuals -- to preserve the integrity and impact of their stories -- the stories had to be captured and then conveyed in the original voice.
Our researchers, again, insisted on meeting a higher standard. They didn’t want, for example, simply to try and replicate the tradition of indigenous first-person accounts. They wanted the power and impact of the real thing.
There’s a parallel with the Museum’s commitment to accessibility.
Was it enough to ensure the building was accessible? Ramps instead of stairs; barrier-free access to exhibits, and so forth?
Our digital media team didn’t think this was enough. They were insistent that “accessibility” had to mean something much broader.
For them it meant that an individual with impaired vision could interact with an exhibit; that a person with a seated mobility device could interact with an exhibit; that a person with a motor challenge could interact with an exhibit; that a person using adaptive technology from home can access digital content.
I should note, too -- we’re not waiting until the Museum is fully operational to start implementing this stuff -- we’re doing it now. We’re already making every effort we can to make each of our offerings as inclusive as we can make it.
And so we’ve now formed something we call Inclusive Design Advisory Council which you’ll hear about in detail in a few minutes and a National Testing Group-- which ensures that nearly everything we offer digitally is first tested by Canadians living with a disability who use an adaptive technology to access digital content.
This marks a significant achievement of the past year. It’s my hope that this inclusive approach helps set a higher standard for all public institutions when it comes to accessible content and programming.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of our mandate, and an area we’ve made great strides over the past 12 months, is around education.
We have a commitment to incorporate more human rights learning to support the school curriculum. But how do you go about doing that?
In our view, you go to the community. You partner with teachers, ministers of education and some of Canada’s leading educational thinkers.
Over the past year, that’s what our team has done.
We have an exceptionally talented staff, but the experts on age-appropriate learning and balanced curriculum development are the people already on the front lines of public education in our country.
The integrated partnerships between the CMHR and educators will, we believe, be a model that will ensure that our education programs are relevant, accessible, and easily integrated into the classroom.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be an extension of the classroom, but the approach to learning marks a fundamental departure from the typical school field trip to a museum.
We now have a director of learning and programming in a full-time role, and it’s indicative of a fundamentally different philosophy when it comes to the formal role public education has in our work.
If you’re a parent, or an educator, you know that kids get it. They have the right instincts when it comes to breaking down barriers and embracing the inherent equality of all people.
Our job is to support them, to cultivate those instincts, to encourage them to think freely about these weighty issues and to help them then inspire their peers to take a stand for human rights.
It’s thanks to burgeoning relationships with Ministers of education across the country, in particular with the leadership of Manitoba’s own Minister and Deputy Minister of Education, with national organization’s such as the Canadian Teachers Federation, with school trustees, educators, and with students themselves -- we’re on the right track.
Building these relationships has been a key focus over the past year, and we’ll build on this work over the coming year too.
Our educational partnerships are of course not limited to those in the early, middle and senior years.
Over the past year, the Museum has built on our formal relationships with universities.
Four members of our team delivered lectures as part of a human rights speakers' series organized by the University of Manitoba. We have a growing partnership with the Global College and the University of Winnipeg including collaborating in an intensive 2 week, 6 credit hour course over the summer. While we will be moving to formalizing our partnership with Université de Saint-Boniface and Red River College, we have already been able to identify some key initiatives.
We are initiating partnerships with Ryerson University in Toronto, the Ontario College of Art and Design, and post-secondary institutions in Quebec and these relationships will continue to grow. Our MOU with Rotary International will help bring thousands of students from across the country and around the world to experience the Canadian Museum for Human Rights first-hand.
On top of this, we continue to build our research capacity, with an aim to becoming a recognized destination for human rights research, not only here in Canada, but around the globe. And I hope you’ll excuse me if I again mention that these international researchers will be investing considerable dollars in our local economy while they’re here.
All of these efforts have become a vital part of our journey as an organization.
Canadians have insisted, rightly, on the highest standards, and we are working each day to meet them.
“Good enough” isn’t good enough for the Museum.
If it were, I could stand here today and tell you that our public consultation had concluded. I could tell you that the time for revision and refinement was over. I could give you the specific time and date that we would open our doors.
But Canadians expect more from their human rights museum. They expect us to continue to listen, to continue to give shape to our exhibits in a way that reflects what they’ve told us. They expect us to build on the dialogue we’ve forged with so many communities across the country.
They want us to spend the time to get this right.
Nous allons prendre le temps nécessaire pour bien faire.
Today, there is much work ahead on our horizon. This journey is far from over, but we continue to move in the right direction.
As you might know, when we released our annual report over the summer, we titled it “Change Takes Shape.”
Put another way, we wanted to make clear to Canadians that the CMHR wasn’t only going to become a place that would affect positive change in Canada, but to reinforce that the Museum was already beginning to make good on that mandate.
After you hear from our next few speakers I think you’ll agree that we’re getting there; that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is already forging a new path toward a more equal, more empathetic, more active, and more humane Canada--
... Canada that can set a higher standard for the world.
But whatever you think, please continue to be part of this project.
Challenge us, encourage us, partner with us.
Ask questions. Help find solutions. Be generous with your advice.
Whenever I have the opportunity to address an audience in my capacity as CEO, I like to remind people that human rights aren’t like politics. It’s not enough to have the many represented by the few.
The advancement of human rights demands the commitment of all of us.
Nous devons tous nous engager pour la promotion des droits de la personne.
In my view, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights represents the best opportunity our country has ever had to build a Canada that truly reflects our highest ideals. And we will, if we continue together along this path of investing all we can to get it right.
Pour Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada et le monde.