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Human Rights –a Museum’s Perspective

By Sally Miskavige, Grand Forks Children’s Museum Board Member

As we move forward on the Grand Forks Children’s Museum, we are reminded of our commitment to support the needs of people from all walks of life, with all levels of ability, while being accepting of people of all ages, gender and sexual orientation, and ethnicities. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion…these are not just buzz words for this century but are core values to how we have planned our museum and how we will proceed.

On our trip to the Children’s Museum in Manitoba, we also visited the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR). What we loved about this museum is the way that they tackled some of the most challenging and difficult subjects of our time through art, storytelling, historic preservation of peoples, events and facts, and the inclusion of the visitor’s thoughts and ideas.

One of the temporary exhibits was a display on human rights. With our country deeply divided on racial equity, the comprehension and awareness of human rights is an underlying platform to understanding disparities. In a child’s mind, human rights can be as simple as how we treat one another. The Canadian Museum of Human Rights’ exhibit was structured to be thought provoking and age appropriate. In the ‘Participate in the Conversation’ portion of the exhibit, children were encouraged to complete a simple sentence from several prompts including:

o Respect is…

o I will…

o I stand for…

Once completed, these handwritten prompts were added to a display wall. As we walked around, there were corroborative displays, short stories, and movies, all supporting the concept of human rights. From the museum’s signage: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”… a reminder of our most basic human rights that are inherent to all.

Human rights…simply structured for a child’s understanding and awareness. It is a complex subject and successfully broken down for a child’s mind. This exhibit was informative and inspirational. If we can help our youth understand basic human rights and how to treat one another, we will ultimately create a better world, one child at a time.

We will take the lead from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR) in our vision for the Grand Forks Children’s Museum.

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