I appreciate that we are not seeing Winnipeg at its best, it is that in between bleak season when the snow has almost melted, every surface is still covered in a grey fine dust and there is no colour to be seen, no grass, no leaves, just grey dust swirling everywhere when the wind blows. But even if it were spring,summer or fall, I am not Winnipeg itself is worth visiting, other than on the way to somewhere else. I am sure that the 600,000 people who live here would disagree!
Having said that, we did have a fascinating, insightful, sad but hopeful and inspiring afternoon yesterday at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. It is an extraordinary building, spiralling upwards to the seventh floor, walking across bridges from which you can sees glimpses of the floors below and out into the city. The building reflects the idea behind it, that of valuing human rights and trying to make the world a better place by so doing. It engages you as soon as you enter with a huge video screen with a short film discussing how we each define human rights and how to enact them. The opposite wall defines one hundred important moments in the history of human rights.
One of the most moving parts of the museum was the floor which described how Hitler and the Nazis manipulated the law and the German population to bring about the holocaust. There were small videos of personal stories told by survivors from the concentration camps. It was somewhere around here that Simon said he thought every country should have a museum like this and that every school child should have an excursion to it as it is so important to know these things.
Further up there was a floor showing how individuals have changed the world for the better, bringing us much hope. There was a display from a school in Georgia where the school prom was segregated until as recently as 2013! Unbelievable that white and black students went to school together but we’re not allowed to go to the school prom together. 4 students changed that!
An amazing story was that of Canadian Craig Kielburger who as a 12 year old set up a charity “free the children”, campaigning against child labour. He went to India to see for himself and met with the Canadian Prime Minister who was on a trade delegation at the time. He has gone on to raise enough money to build 650 schools and help hundreds of thousands of children. He and his brother set up a sister charity, Me to We, which inspires socially responsible consumerism and gives people the opportunity to volunteer overseas, as students on camps or family holidays. Truly inspiring, especially given that he started at 12!