There is a lesson to be learned by CMHR from the reaction of the Métis Federation
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is there for all Canadians, says Rhea Yates, a spokesperson for the Museum, in defending a decision to reject the 74-year-old Ray St. Germaine, the artist proposed by the Metis Federation for the opening ceremonies. She went on to state that she really wanted someone younger. And more, that she wanted someone who would be appropriate for a television broadcast.
Ray St. Germain is one of Winnipeg’s and Canada’s iconic performers. He has impressed audiences across generations and all over our nation. He continues to do so when he performs. Moreover, he is a pioneer of Canadian television.
Ms. Yates says that this decision was not ageism and points to the fact that the 73-year-old Buffy St. Marie will be performing at the CMHR in the future. Still, age did enter into the decision since it was also stated that they were looking for someone to lead into a part of the performance featuring children. It is not clear why St. Germain does not fit that profile.
Human rights is probably one of the most sensitive issues of today. The views of the rights community cannot be made to conform to the ideas and plans of museum curators or organizers of events.
A sensitive way of dealing with individual interests will be critical to the success of our museum going forward.