UCCLA calls for review of Museum for Human Rights’ funding, management

UCCLA Media Release (Ottawa – 17 January 2011)

Call for a review of Museum for Human Rights’ funding and management

Recent comments by officials from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights have made it clear that the proposed contents of this taxpayer-funded national museum will neither be fair nor equitable.

To clarify matters, and speaking to points made by CMHR representatives, Roman Zakaluzny, UCCLA’s chair, said:

"The museum’s CEO, Stuart Murray, has now admitted that the suffering of Jews during the Shoah and of indigenous peoples in Canada will have permanent and prominent gallery spaces (zones) assigned to them, a point underscored in Ottawa recently by Patrick O’Reilly, the Museum’s Chief Operating Officer. All other genocides and crimes against humanity- ‘a hundred’ or so according to museum researchers – will be lumped into a ‘Mass Atrocities’ zone. In our view this is unjust, ahistorical, and certainly unacceptable given that this is a taxpayer-funded national museum.

"In addition, museum officials are also largely ignoring what their own surveys have told them the public expected to see in this museum.  (page 63 of PDF, page 35 of document)

"Every one of the twelve zones (galleries) in this museum should be thematic, comparative and inclusive. For example, there should be a gallery dealing with Canadian internment operations and the War Measures Act, which had a negative impact on Ukrainians and other Europeans during the First World War, and on Japanese, German and Italian Canadians during the Second World War, and on French Canadians in 1970. Similarly, a Genocide Gallery would include the Shoah alongside the Armenian Genocide, the Holodomor, the Rwandan Genocide, the Maoist Terror and others. That’s fair and equitable. What logical or moral argument can there be for calling what happened to the Armenians or the Chinese or the Cambodians or the Ukrainians as a ‘mass atrocity’ while insisting that only the Holocaust was an act of genocide or somehow worthy of a privileged space?

"No Ukrainian Canadian organization has ever said that the aboriginal experience in Canada or that the Shoah in Europe should not be included in this museum. Both must be. That said, those stories must not be given privileged space in a museum that all Canadians are being called upon to pay for, in perpetuity.

"Since it is now apparent that those in charge of this project are intent on pursuing their own vision of what should be included, irrespective of legitimate concerns and of their own surveys (page 63 of PDF, page 35 of document) of the public, and that they are still attempting to confuse the public about their prearrangements and plans, we call upon the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable James Moore, to order an immediate stop to any further federal financial support for this museum and to initiate a complete overhaul of its board of trustees and management. A national museum should serve some important national interest. As currently envisioned, this museum will only be a continuing source of divisiveness and controversy."

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For more information or an interview, please contact luciuk (at) uccla.ca
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