WINNIPEG — Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum last week donated $1 million to Winnipeg’s soon-to-be-built Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the brainchild of the late media mogul Israel Asper.
From left, Jim Temerty, Donald MacDonald, Gail Asper and Larry Tanenbaum celebrate the three $1-million gifts to Canadian Human Rights Museum last week.
Tanenbaum was joined by Jim Temerty, founder of Northland Power, and Toronto lawyer Donald MacDonald, who also contributed $1 million each. Their donations were announced March 6 at Toronto’s Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary High School.
In making his gift, Tanenbaum said he hoped the museum will help Canadian young people understand human rights violations of the past and what they can do to improve human rights in the future.
He and Temerty, a Ukrainian-Canadian, both encouraged others in Canadian businesspeople to donate to the museum.
MacDonald, the father of a disabled child, said he hopes the museum will help sensitize Canadians to the consequences of discriminating against people with disabilities.
In an interview, Asper’s daughter, lawyer Gail Asper, chair of the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, told The CJN she was “humbled by the tremendous support” of the three donors.
“The goal of the museum is to inspire people to take personal action and personal responsibility for the protection and advancement of human rights in Canada and around the world. The museum is not just a place where we are chronicling history,” she said
“The museum will contain the first national gallery in Canada dealing with the Holocaust. This is something that is long overdue for Canada. It’s highly appropriate that the gallery dealing with the Holocaust and anti-Semitism today be in the museum for human rights,”she added.
“It’s important to remind people that the Holocaust happened not just because of Hitler’s will to destroy the Jews, but because of the indifference of the world and complicity of the world. We have to inspire the citizens of the world to work together to ensure that the Holocaust doesn’t happen again, and that Jews are not persecuted, and of course, that the world steps up and speaks out about any other people that are being persecuted.”
Asper said the fundraising campaign for the museum, which is set to open in 2010, is at “a critical juncture.”
She and the supporters of the museum have raised $88 million out of the $105 million in private donations needed before an April deadline, after which construction costs will go up, which could mean the project has to be scaled back.
Approximately $17 million in private donations has come from Ontario.
Last week, legislation making the museum a national entity passed the Senate. The bill previously passed in the House of Commons with the unanimous consent of all parties.
Asper hopes the legislation will spur a flurry of donations so that the remaining $17 million in private capital can be raised.
The museum, which will be the first national museum in Canada outside the Ottawa region, is a $265-million project. When the private capital is raised, the government of Canada will put forward $100 million, the province of Manitoba will contribute $40 million and the city of Winnipeg will contribute $20 million.
The federal government will also contribute approximately $22 million in annual operating funding.
The museum has the support of 50 ethno-cultural and human rights groups across Canada.
Asper said that “the idea is that the museum should be a hub of museums of conscience in the world.”
She added: “The museum’s website will reach tens of thousands of students around the world and the museum should be a catalyst for conferences on human rights issues.”