Canadian Museum for Human Rights releases new framework after allegations of racism, sexism

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has released a new plan to create a safer workspace after allegations earlier this year of racism, sexism and homophobia at the national museum.

The new plan, done by an external reviewer, has 44 recommendations for the museum going forward.

The recommendations range from making sure the board of directors includes no fewer than one Black person, one Indigenous person and one LGBTQ2 person at all times, adding a chief equity officer position, better and more thorough training and blind hiring practices.

Read all 44 recommendations here:

“Creating lasting change requires a deep commitment to challenging our systems and the way we work,” said CEO Isha Khan.

“Our approach must address systemic racism and discrimination in our workplace in a meaningful way. It cannot be window dressing. It will take a sustained effort over time.”

Khan said the recommendations are only Phase 1, with Phase 2 underway.

An independent review earlier this year into reports of workplace discrimination at the museum found “pervasive and systemic” racism, and said it was rife with sexism, heterosexism and homophobia.

The 72-page report released in the summer stems from a review ordered in June following a social media campaign where Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ2 current and former employees shared stories of racism, discrimination and censorship at the museum.

After the museum posted images of a Justice for Black Lives rally in June, stories from employees were posted online by a group called CMHR Stop Lying. Current and former employees responded that it was hypocritical of the museum to bring up the rally because of racism they faced at work.

Employees also wrote about having to censor displays about LGBTQ2 history at the request of some school groups who visited the museum.

The report confirmed many of the allegations made by the current and former employees.

No action was taken when racism from visitors was reported, the report said. When issues were raised, some employees said their employment was threatened.

The original complaints forced the resignation of CEO John Young, who announced he wouldn’t seek reappointment following the end of his five-year term on Aug. 14.

Read the full Phase 1 report here:

In a release this past summer, museum interim CEO Pauline Rafferty said the review’s findings made it clear “many people have been adversely impacted by racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination within the Museum.”

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I apologize that it took a public crisis for the organization to seriously reflect on the issues of systemic racism, homophobia and other forms of oppression,” Rafferty said.

The CMHR then hired Khan to replace Young on Aug. 17.

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