Winnipeg – August 14, 2015 – One of the world’s most famous historic charters, the legendary Magna Carta, is being showcased at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) alongside some of Canada’s most important foundational documents.
Opening tomorrow (August 15) in the Museum’s new Level 1 Gallery, the exhibition also includes a page from Prime Minister John A. Macdonald’s original handwritten draft of the British North America Act of 1867, a key document in Canada’s Confederation. The document is on loan from Library and Archives Canada.
“Magna Carta – Law, Liberty and Legacy” is a national travelling exhibition celebrating the 800th anniversary of the great charter that laid the foundation for basic principles of democracy and human rights. Magna Carta — on loan from Durham Cathedral in the United Kingdom – is exhibited in a setting that recreates King John’s tent at Runnymede (the field in England where Magna Carta was sealed). The bilingual, interpretive exhibition also includes the historic “Charter of the Forest”, life-sized representations of the King, Barons and Commoners, and interactive elements such as a huge 3D globe.
Exclusively in Winnipeg, a unique companion exhibit created by the CMHR, called “Canada’s Magna Carta: Meanings and Misconceptions”, explores Canada’s own constitutional documents and their connection to rights and freedoms, including Indigenous peoples’ rights. A stone from Runnymede, gifted to the CMHR by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during a 2010 visit to Winnipeg, is also on display. Family activities with a giant chess board, medieval costumes and calligraphy make the past come alive.
“This unprecedented collection creates a rare opportunity for our visitors to view documents that have shaped the course of legal and constitutional history in the United Kingdom, Canada and beyond,” said CMHR interim president and CEO Gail Stephens. “Our country’s unique story of rights and freedoms can be tracked in the evolution of these laws.”
Suzy Rodness, Co-chair of Magna Carta Canada, said the exhibition provides visitors with insights into the forces that shaped the Charters, their impact in Britain and around the world. “These documents have enduring power today as symbols of justice and democracy,” she said. “Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest – created many centuries ago – have had an astonishing and enduring impact on today’s world.”
In Canada, foundational documents that have influenced our understanding of human rights range from the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which recognized pre-existing Indigenous rights to land, to the 1981 Kitchen Accord and the Constitution Act of 1982 that established our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These documents are also currently on display in the Museum, on loan from Library and Archives Canada.
“The loan of important historical documents, like the draft of the British North America Act, is a vital part of Library and Archives Canada’s mandate,” said Dr. Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “I firmly believe partnerships such as this one, which allow these documents to be seen in their original form, are the secret to keeping our history alive and proof that history belongs to all of us,”
A special exhibition fee of $5 per adult, $3 for youth, $4 for students and seniors, and $14 for families will be charged in addition to regular gallery admission fees. CMHR members may visit at no additional cost.
Magna Carta – Law, Liberty and Legacy will be on display at the CMHR from August 15 to September 18, 2015. This exhibition was developed by Magna Carta Canada. The Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest are on loan from Durham Cathedral in the United Kingdom, and the tour has been organized by Lord Cultural Resources, with the support of the Government of Canada. The Winnipeg portion of the tour is supported by the Paul Albrechtsen Foundation.
Magna Carta Canada (MCC) is a charitable organization committed to educating and engaging Canadians about the issues and legacies that resonate from Magna Carta, and its companion document, the Charter of the Forest. In commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the issuance of Magna Carta, MCC will bring both iconic documents from England to Canada for a national exhibition. A companion book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada, and national education program are also part of this initiative. Magna Carta Canada is supported by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta and RBC Foundation.
The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations, and to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, thereby contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada. Library and Archives Canada also facilitates co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge, and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the CMHR creates inspiring encounters with human rights for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.
For more information, please contact:
CMHR media relations manager
Publicist, Holmes PR
on behalf of Magna Carta Canada