Human rights museum opportunity for economic renewal

When Israel Asper conceived the idea for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, he not only saw it as a means to address intolerance and hatred, he saw it as an opportunity for Winnipeg’s economic renewal.  

Certainly, a $100-million Canadian government capital investment combined with an annual operating investment of nearly $22 million would stimulate jobs and economic activity. However, as an international cultural and educational destination, the museum would also draw millions of dollars from resources outside the country. 

Through a minimum of $170 million in direct capital expenditures, the construction project alone will result in thousands of direct and indirect jobs.  Throughout Canada, this translates into 3,600-person-years employment with 1,700-person-years employment directed at just Manitoba.  

The construction project will also generate $19 million in federal tax revenue and several million in provincial tax revenue. Through ongoing operations, the museum will annually generate over $33 million in direct Manitoba expenditures and over $8 million in tax revenue for all levels of government. 

Ongoing operations, attracting more than 250,000 visitations, will also create nearly 500 jobs annually with many being creative and high-tech.  

However, the impact will not be confined to the construction and operations of the museum alone. As an international destination, the museum will usher in a whole new era of economic possibilities through the creation of spin-off businesses, tourism, education and cultural offerings.  Already, Winnipeg has welcomed a new hotel — The Sandman. As was the case with two other hotel developments, the decision to locate here was due in large part to the museum.  

The University of Winnipeg’s Global College has announced a unique human rights degree program that could attract students from around the globe.  Rotary International District 5550 has started an international student travel endowment that will one day see 33,000 students travel here annually. In addition, the museum’s national student travel program is expected to attract another 20,000 students.  

Winnipeg could also become a human rights training destination for peacekeepers and employees of international corporations.  

When the museum becomes a signature attraction for the ever-growing cultural tourism market, visits will increase exponentially when additional  museum-related tourism packages are offered — perhaps a three-day immersion into aboriginal culture, a festival tour or a polar bear/northern lights package or others.  

We’ve learned from experience how signature architecture can be a significant tourism draw. For example, the construction of the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, led to the construction of new museums in the area and increased tickets sales for existing museums.

People across Manitoba are beginning to recognize opportunities stemming from real estate appreciation, service and hospitality industries, as well as human resource training, meeting and convention potential. The sky is the limit when it comes to future economic growth. 

You can help make the museum a reality and forever change Manitoba and Canada.

To find out why REALTORS® are involved in the museum’s fund-raising campaign, go to and click on the R® logo. Donations can be made through the same website.

(This is the first in a four-part series of articles on the museum appearing in the WREN submitted by the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.)