Human rights are a hot topic in Winnipeg thanks to the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Although issues of human dignity, respect and responsibility all come in to play when considering human rights, the term today most frequently refers to the opportunities and freedoms to which we all, as humans, have a right.
The Winnipeg Foundation works for greater social justice and to advance the well-being of all in our city. Although most of its grants can generally be defined as supporting human rights, it also funds projects that support more specific initiatives. The biggest is the grant to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).
Back in 2003, The Winnipeg Foundation Board of Directors approved a $6 million grant – the largest in its history – to the Museum. The Foundation was an early supporter of the initiative because the CMHR’s goals align with many of the Foundation’s own. The grant was paid out over 10 years.
Of course the Museum isn’t the only organization working to foster dignity, respect and responsibility. The Foundation has supported a variety of projects that promote human rights, and here’s a sampling:
How do you get 18,000 young people pumped up to make a difference? Bring together students, educators, celebrities, hometown heroes and social activists for an awesome event that celebrates young people’s power to change the world.
“We Day reminds youth that by shifting their focus from ‘me’ to ‘we,’ they can work together to make a difference in their local and global communities,” says Jessica Ferraro, Sponsorship Fulfillment Manager with Free The Children, which organizes the event.
The strength of We Day is that it’s more than just a day-long affair – high school students take the positive messages back to their schools and mobilize peers to act. Tickets are free; students earn entry to the event by volunteering in the community.
According to Free the Children, 98 per cent of students who attended We Day in 2012 left feeling like they could make a difference, and 86 per cent of educators reported a greater atmosphere of caring and compassion in their schools.
During the 2011/2012 school year, 55,000 students from 300 schools took action across Manitoba, raising nearly $500,000 for local and global causes.
The Winnipeg Foundation supported We Day in 2011, 2012 and 2013 with grants drawn from Community Building Funds.
Global Justice Film Festival
“In watching a film it’s all about individuals who are living the experience and what that experience is for them. It’s very personal in that sense,” says Global Justice Film Festival Finance Committee Chair Don Winstone. “So this is not an intellectual exercise in human rights, it’s about actual people.”
Now in its 12th year, the festival brings together the committed and the curious with the goal of creating agents of change in the areas of social justice, peace, human rights, women’s rights, democracy, food issues and the environment, to name a few.
This year’s theme was Imagining Possibilities. “Our world is in desperate need of transition,” Winstone explains. “From rampant consumerism to a conserver society; from dependency on carbon-based energy sources to truly renewable energy; from power and control hierarchy to genuine democracy and from war to peace.”
The Foundation’s support allows for reduced admission fees for low income persons and students.
The Winnipeg Foundation has supported the Global Justice Film Festival for more than a decade.
Many Voices, One World
The concept of human rights can be daunting, especially for elementary school students. Using creative media such as storytelling and art can help broach the subject.
Through the Many Voices, One World project, schools work with a storyteller who presents stories that speak to core human values. Inspired by these stories, each class then creates new stories in the form of a peace banner, a song, or other three dimensional construct.
“The art can really say something that words cannot. It hits people in a different spot,” says Beverley Ridd, Treasurer of Project Peacemakers, an ecumenical charitable organization that runs the program.
“[The art] gives the kids ownership and makes them internalize the work,” adds Shawn Kettner, Artistic Coordinator of Many Voices, One World.
The project is helping students heal from trauma and build resilience while forming connections.
By the end of 2014, 1,500 students from schools throughout the city will have participated in the program since 2011.
The Winnipeg Foundation has supported Project Peacemakers and Many Voices, One World in 2011, 2012 and 2014 with grants from the Moffat Family Fund and the Gerald and Mona Gray Fund.