POLITICS

A look at the long road to the opening of Winnipeg's human rights museum

09/12/2014 11:31 EDT | Updated 11/12/2014 05:59 EST
WINNIPEG - A look at the long, sometimes bumpy, road to the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights:

July 2000 — Winnipeg media magnate and philanthropist Izzy Asper pitches to the federal government the idea of a "tolerance" museum in Winnipeg. The idea is based partly on a similar museum in Los Angeles that examines racism and atrocities such as the Holocaust.

April 18, 2003 — The Asper family, along with the federal, provincial and municipal governments, announces plans for a $200-million human rights museum. The Aspers hope for at least $100 million from the federal government, but get an initial commitment of $30 million.

May 2003 — Some cultural groups express concern that the museum is to include a 1,200-square-metre permanent Holocaust exhibit, while other atrocities are to receive less prominence.

Oct. 7, 2003 — Izzy Asper dies. His daughter Gail Asper becomes the driving force behind the museum project.

May 2004 — Corporate and individual donations roll in as funding negotiations continue with the federal government. An opening date of 2008 is touted.

January 2006 — The Asper Foundation, the family's charitable trust, puts up another $12 million for capital costs. The planned opening is pushed to 2010.

December 2007 — Museum officials hire academic experts to help determine how to fairly present controversial issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They hope to avoid a controversy similar to one at the Canadian War Museum, where veterans objected to a display that questioned the morality of the Allied bombing of Dresden, Germany.

Dec. 19, 2008 — The federal government essentially takes over the museum. Prime Minister Stephen Harper declares it the first national museum outside the Ottawa region. The total price tag is now $265 million. The federal government covers $100 million for construction, along with annual operating costs of $21 million.

July 24, 2009 — Construction gets underway, but inflation and other factors drive up the projected cost to $310 million. The fundraising group, led by Gail Asper, seeks more government money and private donations.

January 2011 — The Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the German Canadian Congress renew concerns over the museum's planned emphasis on the Holocaust over other events such as the forced starvation of Ukrainians by the U.S.S.R. in the 1930s.

July 26, 2013 — Museum officials reject a call from aboriginal leaders to use the term "genocide" in a planned exhibit covering Canada's treatment of First Nations.

November 2013 — Exterior construction nears completion. An opening date of Sept. 19, 2014, is announced. The price tag has grown to $351 million.

August 2014 — Plans for an inclusive opening ceremony prove contentious. The Manitoba Metis Federation threatens to boycott the museum after officials reject the federation's request to have country singer Ray St. Germain perform.

Sept. 19, 2014 — The museum holds its opening ceremony.