[Attachment IV]

Report on Mennonite Human Rights Museum Inc. to MHSC, December 6, 2003

By Jake Peters, interim MMHS and MHSC representative

Royden asked me to represent MHSC on the committee exploring the participation of the Mennonite community ( I also represented MMHS) in the Asper Foundation's proposal to build the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) at the Forks. "Dr. Asper's vision is to create a distinctive, architectural exceptional museum that will inspire and project the Canadian commitment to human rights, freedom, democracy and diversity to the world." (Promotional Brochure) This is viewed as a partnership of the Asper Foundation, the Forks, and three levels of government

Vision : ( quoted from Promotional Brochure)

"In the current vision, the theme of "light versus dark" will resonate throughout the museum, beginning in the atrium awash with light of Canada's sunniest province. The intention is to have the visitor experience complete transformation from leaving the outside world to being completely surrounded by ideas and insights the museum embodies. "

"To that end the visitor will enter through a sculpture plaza, among works of art that evoke tolerance and intolerance, light and darkness and then be plunged into a sequence of interactive galleries where he or she will be challenged to confront inhumanity and its causes. After going through the sculpture plaza, the visitor will enter the Museum's 920 square meter (10,000 square foot) grand Hall."

"The Museum will offer the visitor a number of options including the Electronic Forum, the Destination Film, permanent galleries, temporary exhibitions and other program spaces such as lecture theatres, cinemas, TV studios, gift shops and cafes."

"Among the Permanent Galleries proposed will be: The Causes or Introduction, The Hall of Fame/Walk of shame, The Holocaust gallery, The Canadian Stories, human Rights Crises and Responses and the Canadian Commitment." "Two of the proposed highlights of the Museum will be the Garden of Contemplation, which will allow visitors to temporarily step out of the intensity of the permanent galleries and other facilities of the Museum. The second is the Tower of Hope, where visitors will have the opportunity to express their opinions about human rights, what they have learned and what the subject means to them."

"In the Tower, visitors will also be able to visit the Hall of Constitutions where they can study the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms including replicas of different charters and constitutions from around the world."

"They can ascend to an even higher level in the Tower and directly see the Beacon of Justice, which is a central display that explains that the light of justice burns brighter with every person who commits to its cause. On the visitor's touch, the light of justice will burn a little brighter."

The vision also includes a National Student Program the will sponsor 100,000 high school students and their chaperones from across Canada. Programs will also used to educate and sensitize our military personnel, police officers and teachers.


The project was announced on April 17, 2003. A sod turning ceremony was held on October 25 along with the initiation of the architectural competition. It is anticipated that the selection of the architect will the announced on July 1, 2004, with construction to start in 2005.


The promotional packet contains endorsement letters from 16 religions, ethnic and cultural organizations, most addressed to The Honourable John Chretian, encouraging the federal government to support this project. "So far, the Aboriginal, Japanese, Jewish, Ukrainian, Chinese, Franco Manitoba, Canadian Francophone and Acadian, Women's Rights, and Gay and Lesbian communities, have unanimously, after careful study, endorsed the Museum plans." Ken Reddig wrote a letter (May 27, 2003) to Gail Asper expressing personal support for the project, and informing her about Mennonite Human Rights Museum Inc. committee interest, and their wish to make a presentation on the Mennonite experiences at a future date.


Phase A $200.0 million
Government of Canada 50%
Province of Manitoba 10%
City of Winnipeg 10%
Private sector 30%



Several members from the 50th Anniversary Committee (celebrated the arrival of post WWII Mennonite refugees), namely, John and Elsie Funk, Henry Bergen, Wanda Andres, and Nettie Dueck, decided to pursue CMHR proposal. Ken Reddig also liked the proposal and has joined the group. To date this group has met for four formal meetings. This group saw themselves as acting largely as facilitators to enable participation of the Mennonite community in this venture. Their goals are to generate interest and publicity in the Mennonite community, to seek as wide a representation from this community as possible, and to search for persons who have special gifts that could be harnessed. Their initial mission statement states "the committee is established to promote understanding of the unjust suffering of innocent people because of the callousness, prejudice and inhumanity of governing authorities, to commemorate and celebrate the triumph of the human soul over adversity, of love over hate, of hope over despair, of forgiveness over wrong. to this end we want to participate in the development of the Hun13ll rights Museum to be established at The Forks in Winnipeg." This is now being refined.

At the August 7th meeting the group selected Mennonite Human Rights Museum Inc. as the official name for the organization, and elected a slate of officers. This basic structure is necessary for registering the organization, establishing a bank account, seeking charitable status, and generating an identity in the community. At the Nov 6th meeting it was reported that registration is complete, and that a bank account had been set up at the Crosstown Credit Union on Henderson Hwy. Charitable status must still be secured.

I have attended the last three meetings as a representative of the MMHS and the MHSC. Other organizations such as Mennonite Heritage Centre, and Mennonite Heritage Village have also been contacted. Efforts are being made to increase the coordinating committee to about ten persons, with specialized subcommittees to be added later to provide museum content and presentation input


1. There is a need to provide a national Mennonite endorsement, and I would propose that the executive of MHSC write two letters. First, a letter supporting the proposal for The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and offering to share the Mennonite story, should be sent to Gail Asper, managing director of the Asper Foundation, with copy to Henry Bergen. Second, a letter should be sent to Henry Bergen, chair of MHRMI, acknowledging our support of the initiatives taken by the committee, and offering further support to the group.

2. Given that the MHRMI wishes to have national representation, I would propose that we appoint the chair of MHSC, or his designate, to serve on this committee, or act as a consultant

3. To raise the awareness of this project in the Mennonite community, I would propose that each provincial historical society publicize this project, and forward any local stories of Mennonite experiences deemed appropriate to MHRMI. Identifying gifted persons who could serve as consultants would also be a valuable contribution.

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