The tower of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights was lit as I came over the Norwood Bridge today.

That got me thinking of how impressed I was by the architecture when I had the privilege of touring the place in the final months they offered interior tours. At the time, I was awfully tempted to purchase a membership just to hang out in the building. And it wasn't only the architecture that was compelling; the vision that our tour guide expressed of a living museum with lectures and theatre pieces and discussion groups or Q&A sessions with experts broke through my wall of skepticism that the Holocaust would dominate in this rights museum which violated Aboriginal sensibilities by building at the Forks.

I pondered this inclination now as I consider the growing furor about the museum's emphasis (mostly its exclusions) from various groups wishing to boycott the place. However, besides the fact that the museum isn't open yet so we don't actually know what is in it (or not) yet, I wonder whether there's any use in that? Will there actually be any effect from a small boycott of the museum by supporters of Palestinian causes or by certain corners of First Nations communities?

I wonder if it mightn't be just as -- or more effective -- for those who feel their perspective goes unrepresented to get involved with the museum, and from the role of a supporter advocate for their cause, rather than from the role of a hostile, outside party.

I wonder if this mightn't be one of those cases where working with is more effective than working against. By supporting the vision for the museum to be a place of learning, dialogue, and advocacy on issues of human rights -- and their denial -- in the present as much as the past, interested parties may find themselves invited to bring their perspectives and concerns at a later date. Whereas, if they frame themselves as adversaries, even when an opportunity to highlight their concern arises, the museum may bypass those groups in favour of other, less unfriendly sources.

I just wonder.

Updated Sept. 17, 2014.


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