You wouldn’t think it but right now there is a mountain rising into the prairie sky. Israel Asper’s dream is coming true.
Israel (Izzy) Asper, the one time head of the Canwest media empire wanted to build a shining beacon to the world and he wanted it in Winnipeg. Izzy, during his life, was not only a modern day media mogul, but also a philanthropist of the highest order.
What is taking shape at The Forks in Winnipeg, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. A 300 Million Dollar mountain of glass and steel rising out of the prairie soil will serve as a reminder to those around the globe of the atrocities that have and continue to take place. The 265,000 square foot facility to literally be made in the shape of a mountain will showcase to the world the past and present failings, and triumphs of humanity.
Izzy’s daughter Gail Asper, spearheaded the building of this monument after her fathers death. Achieving national status for the project, it is the first museum to be built outside of the Ottawa Capital Region to demand and receive status and funding as a federal institution. Estimated operations costs are estimated to be in the 20 million dollar per year range. Previously for a museum of this type to be built outside of the capital region would have been unthinkable.
As a citizen of Canada and of Winnipeg, I have mixed emotions toward this monstrosity being built at The Forks. As a Canadian I feel that we are natural leaders in fostering a more humane agenda around the world than some of our neighbors. Yet I see the crippling poverty and desperation in my home city. Winnipeg unfortunately has the title of Child Poverty Capital of Canada. A title we have held even before the latest economic crisis.
I know that the Museum will undoubtedly bring millions in tourist dollars doing untold good to educate the worlds youth about The Holocaust, or the Genocide in Rwanda. But how much if any of that money will trickle down and help the poor on the streets??
We can build our monuments to documents written in the name of humanity and buy T-Shirts claiming to show our convictions. But until we end what is happening in our own back yard does Winnipeg really have the right to brag?