Focus On

Winnipeg museum for human rights has new president

Tuesday, August 11, 2020 @ 2:15 PM | By John Chunn

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) announced that Manitoba human rights lawyer and advocate Isha Khan has been appointed as its new president and chief executive officer.

CMHR board chair Pauline Rafferty said the appointment is a crucial and positive step towards rebuilding trust in the museum’s commitment to human rights. The five‐year appointment, which commences on Aug. 17, was announced on Aug. 10 by Steven Guilbeault, minister of Canadian Heritage.

“Isha Khan has the personal and professional experience to lead the organization through the necessary changes that are now underway,” Rafferty said. “Working closely with the CMHR Board of Trustees, she will ensure this important national museum meets the highest standards for inclusion, diversity and respect.”

According to the CMHR’s press release, Khan has dedicated her career to issues of inclusion and equality. For almost a decade, she led the advancement of rights as executive director and senior counsel with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. Last October, she was appointed by the minister of Public Safety to co-ordinate a review of conditions for people incarcerated in federal penitentiaries. She is the board chair of United Way Winnipeg, a member of the Law Society of Manitoba’s Equity Committee and one of the founders of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (Winnipeg chapter). 

Her initial focus will be on ensuring the CMHR fully reflects human rights values in its workplace and everything it does. “I am committed to leading the hard work ahead that will ensure the museum is a diverse and welcoming workplace for all its employees,” Khan said.

Khan said she is excited by the opportunity to lead the museum into the future and find new ways to inspire people everywhere to take action for human rights. “The CMHR has great potential to become a strong and effective national voice for human rights education and action.”

She plans to take decisive action for change at the museum, informed by employees, stakeholders and the recommendations of an independent, external review commissioned by the CMHR’s Board of Trustees in June. The interim report of the first phase of the review, which contains 44 recommendations for change, was released on Aug. 5. The second phase of the review will begin in the near future.