When I got invited to work with the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba in Winnipeg in March of 2018, I didn’t really know what to expect from Winnipeg’s weather. It was what I was most nervous about as I prepared for my 10 day visit. Was I flying into a winter tundra? Would we be able to get around easily? Like, how cold is it reeeeeeally? Well, the experience was far easier than I had naively anticipated. It was not a tundra - though there was plenty of snow. There were buses to get around all over the city, but the sidewalks were a little icy. And it was sunny as spring but cold, like chilly cold. Not enough to make my lungs hurts or my nose hairs freeze, but cold enough I was happy to have a good jacket, leather gloves and a warm toque.
I had a job to do but that only filled up one day of this visit …. So I had plenty of time there to do other things. In a previous blog post I talk about the Polar Bears at the Assiniboine Park and although they were amazing, they weren't high on my list of things to see. Very glad I did though. High on my list was visiting The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. On the website it states: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is the first museum solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights.
Apparently from the air this massive building is designed to look like a dove. “The journey is an upward one as we struggle towards fully realized human rights around the world. Visitors to the Museum will experience that journey symbolically as they progress through the building.” Visitors move through the building via a series of cross crossing ramps, each covered in back-lit translucent alabaster imported from Spain. There's even a Garden of Contemplation, a bright open space for collecting your thoughts and probably groups together. There's water features and rugged basalt rock lumps mined from the dormant volcanos of Inner Mongolia.
Standing tall, the highest mark on this massive building is the Tower of Hope. It’s a 23-storey glass spire, rising 100 metres out of the centre of the building, reach into the sky. From nearly the top you can look out from the observation deck towards the horizon, viewing a grand prairie sky, with great views of the Exchange District, the Forks (Assiniboine and Red River juncture), Central St. Boniface, and the Esplanade Riel (a beautiful pedestrian bridge stretching over the Red River) . I visited in the bright light of a high sun, but at night, the tower is illuminated as “a symbol of enlightenment”.
It’s an architectural masterpiece, with astounding views from the outside and the inside alike. There's so much to take it, visually and emotionally. While visiting this museum as an outsider of Winnipeg, unaware of many nuances and controversies surrounding this museum and how it came to be, I took quite and interest in what my friend Ash, my personal tour guide and local to the area, had to share with me. I'll share some links below for further reading.
In all honesty, I was too distracted by the architecture, the visuals of the building itself, that I barely took in any of the exhibits. I would visit again, perhaps with a full afternoon and without a camera in order to take more in and experience the exhibits. My experience with the building itself was amazing. It’s an awe inspiring visual experience unlike anything I've ever witnessed.
Links of interest so you can learn more.