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Museum launches Champion Human Rights campaign

Goal is to celebrate human rights during the Games: Murray

Vancouverites and Olympic visitors are being invited to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights exhibit to pen messages on the rights to which they believe we’re all entitled.

Gay Canadian Olympic swimming medalist Mark Tewksbury was one of the first to sign the message board.

“Everyone has the right to love,” Tewksbury wrote. “It’s not who you love that matters. It’s that you can love.”

The message was part of the kickoff to the Winnipeg-based museum’s Champion Human Rights campaign devoted to celebrating, inspiring and promoting human rights champions during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

While the museum doesn’t open until 2012, chief executive officer Stuart Murray says it is important to be part of the Games.

“This is an international celebration of the Olympic movement,” he tells Xtra. “We’re going to be part of a celebration of the human rights movement. We want to say that everyone has a voice when it comes to human rights.”

Other Canadians who signed initial museum messages included singer Buffy Sainte Marie, Craig Kielburger of Free the Children and 2010 Winter Olympic medal designer Corrine Hunt.

“These individuals are all true champions in their areas,” Murray says.

The museum is the first of its kind in the world.

Murrays says it’s also important to see things such as the world’s first Olympic Pride Houses in Vancouver and Whistler.

“It speaks to what we’re proud of,” he says, noting the pride Canadians took in the performances of gay fiddler Ashley MacIsaac and lesbian singer kd lang in the Games’ opening ceremonies Feb 12.

The Vancouver Pride House is located at the Qmunity centre at Davie and Bute. Qmunity executive director Jennifer Breakspear is a member of the museum’s content advisory committee.

She says the campaign is an effective tool to get people thinking about rights.

What’s more, she says, it’s good timing to launch the campaign during the Olympics as there are people who may not enjoy the same level of rights Canadians are privileged to have.

The museum’s display is part of the CentrePlace Manitoba pavilion at the Georgia and Cambie Live Site in downtown Vancouver.