An Inspiring Day in Friendly Manitoba Province

My wife, Robin, and I spent Wednesday at a wonderful museum in Winnipeg: the Canadian Human Rights Museum.

It was remarkable by its thorough and historical discussion of human rights abuses around the world, but also by its humble inclusion of Canada’s incursions perpetrated within its own borders. For example, the Museum includes a deep and stirring examination of a “child welfare” system campaign in the 1960’s to “improve” the lives of Aboriginal (“First Nation”) children by removing them from their impoverished family homes and tribal communities and placing them far away in foster care — often with unmonitored and abusive families. Called the “60’s Scoop,” testimonies by these children and their parents, like all the exhibits, are a painful reminder of the consequences of ethnocentric thought.

In fact, the Museum has been a watershed for criticisms in Canada. Groups that feel left out or minimized — i.e. their suffering did not receive fair attention in comparison with that given other incursions against ethnicities, races, religions, gender, LGBTQ communities, people with disabilities, and (an important debate in Canada) linguistic differences (i.e. French vs. English speakers).

The Museum ends with a floor dedicated to  a hopeful consideration of dozens of emergent leaders and voices in human rights causes, many of whom are remarkable for being “everyday people” who just want to make a difference.

Despite its controversies, Canada should feel proud of its effort to document the path to human rights especially as nations like ours choose leaders with more isolationist views. The slope to indifference, bias, and hate can deepen rapidly should we fail to protect and defend our core freedoms.

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Michael Stoltz has been at the agency’s leadership helm since 1990, first as Executive Director of the predecessor organization, Clubhouse of Suffolk, and since July 2014, the CEO of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness (MHAW). MHAW is the result of the merger of Clubhouse with Suffolk County United Veterans and the Mental Health Association in Suffolk County.                                                                                                                                             Under Michael’s stewardship, the agency has grown to one with an $10 million annual operating budget, 150 employees, servicing more than 3,000 people each year through its Ronkonkoma, Riverhead, and Yaphank facilities.                                                                                                                                               A social worker by training, Michael received his MSW in 1982 from Adelphi University, where he has served as an Adjunct Professor teaching Social Welfare Policy and Human Service Management. He served as a Program Supervisor, developing and implementing the Suffolk County Intensive Case Management Program, as well as positions in management and direct service at several Long Island outpatient clinics.

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Posted in Canada, Canadian Human Rights Museum, Disabilities, Human Rights
4 comments on “An Inspiring Day in Friendly Manitoba Province
  1. MARILYN ONEILL says:

    Wonderful you and Robin wre there. Yes, Canada should be ”Proud’ !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Denis Demers says:

      Thanks, Mike! As a French-Canadian by descent, I have deep roots in Canada and, though a 3rd generation American, still maintain pride in my ancestral home. That said, O am reminded by your post of the time Inserved as Regional Director of Catholic Charities based in Plattsburgh during the roll out of the 1986 Immigration and Control Act which led to thousands of undocumented U.S. immigrants fleeing to the Canadian province of Quebec. The most liberal
      And welcoming of the Canadian provinces, refugees seeking asylum were granted admission, assigned a Canadian attorney to represent them and provided the basics of survival while their
      claim, usually favorable, for resetlement, was reviewed by the Canadian authorities. Local Plattsburgh social service agencies provided temporary shelter, healthcare and legal advice under the watchful eye of the U.S. Border Patrol which agreed to allow this rather than arrest and deportation. Catholic Charities was in the forefront in organizing a large cadre of local volunteers providing home shelters, transportation and legal advice. Lasting relationships were formed between resettled
      Refugees and Plattsburgh
      Volunteers who continued to visit the refugees in Canada. Over 5000 refugees were eventually admired to Canada where they and their progeny now live as proud, productive Canadian citizens.

      Like

      • Denis Demers says:

        Apologies for the typing errors. The spark of that effort was the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

        Like

  2. Darlene Brush says:

    Thank you for your writings. Always informative.

    Like

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