They drummed, performed ceremonial smudges, chanted and carried placards about the issues. And they weren't the only ones trying to draw awareness.
One of the first groups to arrive brought their message of the struggle of Palestinian people in Gaza. They are upset the issue is not being recognized at the museum, even though they have met with museum representatives over the past couple of years to have it featured in one of the galleries.
They said they feel overlooked and will continue to push in the hopes that eventually the will be featured in the museum.
As strains of O Canada rang out, it mixed with songs of First Nations women protesting and was punctuated by a woman yelling "your museum is a lie."
The CMHR, near The Forks in the city's downtown, has faced construction delays, criticism and controversy in the years and even days leading up to Friday morning's grand opening ceremony.- TIMELINE | Canadian Museum for Human Rights
CBC News is broadcasting the opening ceremonies live on CBCNews.ca and on CBC Television (main network) in Manitoba starting at 10:30 a.m. CT.
The ceremony was attended by numerous dignitaries including Gov. Gen. David Johnston and former Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, who is now Canada's ambassador to the United States.
However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper wasn't in attendance. A spokesperson said his schedule does not permit him to be there.
Earlier this week, reporters got a sneak peek inside the museum as crews put the finishing touches on exhibits and galleries. Check out the photo gallery to see some gallery highlights.- ON MOBILE? View the photo gallery here.
As well, check out CBC reporters' updates from the museum grand opening throughout the day: