| Zuzak Letters |
UCCLA | 15Sep2014 | to CMHR
An Open Letter from Concerned Canadians
Mr. Stuart Murray, CEO
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
269 Main Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 1B3
Canada’s First National Internment Operations, 1914 to 1920
Dear Mr. Murray,
We, the undersigned, are profoundly dismayed by the lack of a
meaningful portrayal of Canada’s first national internment operations
of 1914 to 1920 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).
We will be asking our affected communities to refrain from partaking in
the opening ceremonies or any subsequent activities at the CMHR until
this matter is resolved fairly.
While we welcome the development of a national museum outside the
capital region, it is regrettable that the CMHR’s exhibits were
developed without sufficient attention being given to key Canadian
stories. An enlarged photograph and one short film clip buried in a
documentary film does not, in our view, constitute an acceptable
treatment of Canada's first national internment operations.
If your goal is to have a truly inclusive national museum then you must
reflect the nation's multicultural history. The insignificant attention
given to First World War era internment operations represents a slight
to all of the internees, enemy aliens and their descendants, including
Canadians of Ukrainian, Hungarian, Croatian, German, Austrian, Polish,
Slovak, Czech, Serbian, Slovene, Bulgarian, and other origins.
Quite recently, the Honourable Jason Kenney, commenting on the 100th
anniversary of the War Measures Act and the start of Canada’s first
national internment operations observed: “the Government of Canada is
committed to recognizing and educating Canadians about the experiences
of those pioneers who overcame such heavy burdens. Their experiences
mark an unfortunate period in our nation’s history. We must ensure that
they are never forgotten.”
We fail to understand why the CMHR has largely ignored a profoundly
Canadian story in a national museum dedicated to human rights.
We, the undersigned, represent many of the affected communities and
internee descendants, as represented by organizations like the
Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko; Ukrainian Canadian
Congress; Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association;
Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce; German-Canadian Congress;
Canadian Polish Congress; and Internee Descendants among others.
We are making our views publicly known, and in advance of the CMHR’s
opening, so there is no confusion: the CMHR does not enjoy the
endorsement or support of our communities. Furthermore, we do not
believe that the limited consultations held with stakeholder
communities about the contents of this museum were given serious
Andrew Hladyshevsky, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of
Olya Grod, Ukrainian Canadian Congress
Roman Zakaluzny, Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Borys Sydoruk, Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation
John Marion, President, Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce
Ludwik Klimkowski, Canadian Polish Congress
Sima Aprahamian, Armenian Community
Suleyman Guven, Kurdish/ Alevi Community
Antony Bergmeier, German-Canadian Congress, National President
Diane Dragasevich, Serbian National Shield Society of Canada
Marsha Skrypuch, Internee Descendant
Christopher Adam, Editor-in-chief, Kanadai Magyar Hirlap (Canadian
As expressed in the many articles archived on this Holodomor web page,
a large number of Canadians have expressed deep concern about the
so-called Canadian Museum for Human Rights -- from the bad
of its inception, its funding and its proposed contents. In addition to
the various immigrant Canadian ethnic communities threatening to
boycott the CMHR, the Indigenous Peoples of Canada have complained that
the CMHR does not appropriately reflect the genocide that they have
endured for the past several centuries. (See articles by Larry Krotz, Steve Rennie, Graeme Hamilton, blackrod, Myron Love, Rev. Kevin
Annett, Mary Welch, Pamela Palmeter.)
history, Imperialist Powers have always perpetrated genocide against
the Indigenous Peoples they conquered and whose land they occupied. Is
the old Imperialism now dead? Not for Vladimir Putin, who decries the
demise of the Soviet Union and is now attempting to resurrect the
Tsarist Russian Empire -- the graveyard of nations. Most recently, he
has annexed Crimea (threatening to deport the indigenous Crimean
Tatars) and attacked and occupied the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine
(threatening to annihilate the indigenous Ukrainians). He is also
threatening the indigenous peoples of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and
CMHR that does not reflect the genocide endured by the Indigenous
Peoples of Canada (Indians, natives, aboriginals, First Nations or
whatever they wish to be called) is an abomination unworthy of
utilizing the term "Human Rights". Perhaps the Indigenous Peoples
should occupy the CMHR building, invite the various ethnic communities
to join them (just like the Maidan in Kyiv) and not leave until their
concerns and that of other Canadians are recognized.]
Toronto Sun | 20Sep2014 | Rod Nickel
Canada human rights museum
stirs controversy as doors open
Canada's museum showcasing human rights opened in the Prairie
city of Winnipeg on Friday, dogged by controversy that began long
before the first visitor arrived.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a tower of glass and
tyndall stone, riled cultural groups who question its content. This
week, Canadians of Ukrainian and other backgrounds urged a boycott due
to "the lack of a meaningful portrayal" of Canada's internment of
so-called "enemy aliens" during the First World War.
"This is supposed to be a Canadian museum of human rights and
really the internment should be front and center," said Marsha
Skrypuch, whose grandfather was interned for about a year a century ago.
Skrypuch said she has no direct knowledge of the museum's
contents, but does not plan to visit it and add to any impression that
it is inclusive.
"Why would I go now? I would be used."
Musical group A Tribe Called Red pulled out of opening
programs over concerns about how the museum presented indigenous issues.
"I don't think you could possibly build a human rights museum
without there being controversy," said Gail Asper, a museum board
member who championed its fund-raising drive. "What we want is for
people to come in, check out the whole museum, see how everything fits
together, and then, if they've got concerns, fair enough."
The museum was envisioned by her father, Israel "Izzy" Asper,
who founded Winnipeg-based Canwest Global. Canwest became one of
Canada's biggest media companies before later sliding into bankruptcy.
Asper, long interested in human rights, decided in 2000 to
build the museum in his hometown when he learned that the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms was not displayed in the country.
Asper died of a heart attack three years later.
"We were really wondering if we should be proceeding with this
because we had lost our leader," recalled Gail Asper. "For him, the
real failure would have been to not try."
Before he died, Izzy Asper convinced Liberal Prime Minister
Jean Chretien to make an initial capital contribution of C$30 million
($27.4 million) and promise another C$70 million later. Private donors
raised C$147 million.
Museum supporters later convinced the next prime minister,
Paul Martin, to honor Chretien's pledge, and his successor, Stephen
Harper, to kick in operational funding.
That support has drawn suspicions of political interference in
the content, which Gail Asper said are unfounded.
While there are other human rights museums, Canada's is billed
as the only one that explores human rights as a concept, instead of
commemorating a specific event or movement.
It uses digital media to feature ideas and stories, rather
than artifacts, and showcases Canada's Charter. Content includes
Canada's treatment of aboriginals, the Holocaust, and eight other
American architect Antoine Predock's design, evoking a glass
cloud, has divided opinion. The museum's ballooning costs also made it
a target, as the C$351 million capital cost far overshot the original
C$200 million estimate.