| Zuzak Letters |
Canadian Jewish News | 16Aug2013 | Myron Love
Genocide designation challenged at human rights museum
WINNIPEG -- Canada’s First Nations are challenging the Canadian Museum
for Human Rights (CMHR) over its use of the term “genocide,” and it’s
generating a welcome discussion, says Maureen Fitzhenry, the
soon-to-be-opened museum’s media relations’ manager.
“This is the whole point of the museum: to raise awareness and promote
discussion of human rights issues such as genocide,” Fitzhenry said.
“It may be that a lot of people haven’t given much thought as to what
She was responding to a controversy sparked by a letter last month from
a prominent Manitoba Aboriginal organization that criticized the
Winnipeg museum for not using the term “genocide” to refer to Canada’s
treatment of Aboriginal People.
The letter came from Grand Chief Murray Clearsky of the Southern Chiefs
Organization. It also noted that the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
pledged $1 million toward the construction of the $310-million
facility, which is officially a federal museum but is being funded by
donations and grants from all three levels of government.
Clearsky said the donation was made “with the understanding that a true
treatment of First Nations would be on exhibit.”
In a statement, CEO Stuart Murray said that the museum “will examine
the gross and systemic human rights violation of Indigenous peoples,”
but he added: “We have chosen, at present, not to use the word
‘genocide’ in the title for one of the exhibits about this experience,
but will be using the term in the exhibit itself when describing
community efforts for this recognition.”
Currently, the museum is officially only applying the term “genocide”
to five specific events -- the Holocaust, the World War I Armenian
genocide committed by the Turks, the 1930s Ukrainian Holodomor, the
mass murders in Rwanda in the mid-1990s and the killing in 1995 of an
estimated 8,000 or more Bosnian Muslims from the town of Srebenica by
Serb irregular forces in that area’s civil war.
Aboriginal activists often use the term genocide to describe the mass
deaths of native peoples in the Americas from foreign diseases and at
the hands of European colonists, as well as efforts to herd Aboriginal
Peoples onto reserves and erase their identities in places such as
Canada’s residential school system.
What has made the CMHR a lightning rod for criticism from ethnic
communities such as First Nations people, Fitzhenry said, is that “it
is a difficult thing for most people to wrap their heads around the
idea that the CMHR is not a museum built around displays of collections
or photos and what should and shouldn’t be included in the collection.
This museum is based on the idea of human rights and telling the
stories of peoples’ struggles.
“We are sensitive to the concerns of our stakeholders,” she added. “We
welcome the opportunity to continue our dialogue with the Aboriginal
community. We appreciate how media coverage of this issue has captured
the attention of the public at large and focused peoples’ thoughts on
how Canada has treated its Aboriginal People over the years.”
On the other hand, Fitzhenry said the federal government doesn’t
officially recognize that treatment as genocide, and since the CMHR is
federally funded, it’s not in a position to determine what constitutes
genocide and doesn’t plan to use the term in the title of the exhibit.
“We are not happy that people are upset about this issue, but we hope
that value will come out of this,” Fitzhenry said.
The museum is slated to open in the fall of 2014. The physical
structure has been completed, but the programming is still being worked
out, she said.
First Nations groups haven’t been the only ones raising concerns lately
about the museum’s content.
Earlier this month, B’nai Brith Canada criticized the decision to
exclude material on the establishment of the State of Israel in the
museum’s Holocaust exhibits, saying that the Shoah teaches crucial
lessons about human rights.
“The question is not whether the establishment of the State of Israel
is part of the historical aspect of the Holocaust, rather whether the
human rights lessons which flow from the Holocaust include the creation
of the State of Israel,” said David Matas, B’nai Brith’s senior legal
counsel. [W.Z. The hypocrisy of David Matas is boundless.]
“The answer to that question is clearly yes, since to come to grips
with the human rights lessons of the Holocaust means addressing the
establishment of the State of Israel.”
Young Jlbwe: 16Aug2013
You guys don't even know what human rights are, so why share the history
of something you failed to be a part of! Genocide is still occuring.
Native people are still being shit on. What rights could possibly lie in
that museum? ENLIGHTEN ME!!!