Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is sharing stories — 10 intensely personal stories to be exact.

On Wednesday the CMHR provided a glance at 10 distinct human rights stories, one from each of its 10 galleries.

Ali Saeed, who lived through Ethiopia's Red Terror in the 70s, was present and shared his story.


Directors from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights unveiled 10 stories Wednesday that will be featured in 10 of the museum's galleries. (Ismaila Alfa/CBC)

"I came direct from prison to Winnipeg barefoot," said Saeed. "We lost half a million people in the Red Terror, and most people don't know that, but they will hear it and come to the museum and see."

Saeed, now a Canadian citizen, was imprisoned and tortured in Ethiopia and Somalia for promoting freedom of speech.

With the help of a humanitarian group, Saeed escaped death row.  

"This is a place in my final destination,” said Saeed. “I've been struggling for the last 42 years to see a museum like this in my life, especially in Canada.”

Ten Stories

Saeed’s story "Breaking the Silence” will be showcased at the museum, as will the 10 stories promoted Wednesday.

Directors at the CMHR chose to feature these individual stories to showcase the diversity of programming the public will have to look forward to upon the museum’s opening in September.

 "While the Museum's scope is global, the stories we feature are intensely personal," said Stuart Murray, CMHR President and CEO, at a press conference today. "To see all of these stories gathered in one place is truly inspiring, as both the fragility and strength of human rights are on full display."

The list of stories include:

  • Tawney Meiorin: The B.C. firefighter fired for failing a fitness test who challenged the case through the Supreme Court.
  • Viola Desmond: The black Nova Scotian businesswoman arrested, charged in the 1940s after sitting in a whites-only section of a movie theatre.
  • Andréanne Pâquet: She created a photo-exhibit to encourage understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims of why female adherents choose to don the hijab.
  • Maréshia Rucker​: The teen who used social media to persude parents and fellow students to hold a racially-integrated prom for the first time in her Georgia, U.S. high school in 2013
  • Nelson Mandela: South Africa's historic election of Mandela in 1994.
  • Craig Kielburger: The human rights advocate and founder of Free the Children and We Day.

Four other stories are part of the showcase, including art, poems, and perspectives of Canada's Indigenous peoples and a child-friendly exhibition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

All of the personal exhibits were curated to reflect the perseverance and strength of those who fought for what they believed in. 

The CMHR opens Sept. 20 this fall.