Human Rights Museum announces new president and CEO
WINNIPEG -- The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) has announced a new president and CEO, as it aims to rebuild and recover after a report revealed employees faced 'pervasive and systemic' racism and discrimination.
The museum announced Monday that Isha Khan, a human rights lawyer from Winnipeg, will take over the role starting August 17.
“I think the museum needs to rebuild some trust with its own staff, within its walls, but also beyond, because it is a place for community,” Khan told CTV News. “That was the mandate, and is the mandate, of the museum."
Khan’s term will last for five years.
"Isha Khan has the personal and professional experience to lead the organization through the necessary changes that are now underway," CMHR Board Chair Pauline Rafferty said in a statement. "Working closely with the CMHR Board of Trustees, she will ensure this important national museum meets the highest standards for inclusion, diversity and respect."
Khan’s appointment comes as the CMHR responds to an independent report into allegations of discrimination and racism at the museum was released last week.
The interim report found racism at the museum was “pervasive and systemic.”
Khan is not taking the report's findings lightly.
“I’m absolutely committed to making sure that this is a respectful, inclusive work environment,” she said. “That means I have to take some leadership at the top to ensure that people understand what human rights really are."
Allegations of discrimination were made public in June, causing the previous CEO John Young to step down before the end of his term. The museum also faced criticism after admitting it had censored LGBTQ2+ content during some school tours.
The museum closed for two days last week to allow staff to address the report.
Employees are optimistic, but want to see continued action.
“When it comes right down to it, there’s got to be constant communication, and basically some accountability for those who have allowed this to be able to taint this institution,” said Marianne Hladun, regional executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents more than 100 CMHR employees.
For a public that may have lost faith in the museum, Khan had this to say.
“If you believe in human rights, and you think they’re important, and you believe in the mandate of this organization, then have hope that it can re-establish itself and do the work that it’s supposed to do,” she said.