Winnipeg will soon be home to a truly world-class learning centre: the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, sure to be one of the most culturally and historically significant destinations on the planet.
But the $310-milllion facility — currently taking shape at its future home near The Forks — will be much more than just a tourist draw. It will also be a global agent of change, one that’ll encourage people to spread its message here at home and throughout the world.
“The whole brand promise of the Museum is to, ‘Empower you to change thought and action,’” says Kim Jasper, Director of Brand and Business Development for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).
“It’s here to build on people’s skills and experience, and to create a world in which people are respected and valued …It just takes one person to create that ripple of change.”
A 1979 graduate of RRC’s Creative Communications program, Jasper now oversees a number of key operations within the CMHR, including restaurant and retail services, destination marketing, and the Museum’s much-anticipated opening ceremonies.
Once operational, the Museum will shine a spotlight on the subject of human rights in a global context, via interactive exhibits exploring such topics as Canada’s Human Rights Journey, Concepts of Rights and Responsibilities, International Human Rights events and other related topics.
The Museum will inspire dialogue, while using history as a springboard for social change — by arming visitors with the knowledge and skills to affect change in their own communities, and encouraging them to take action that will improve the world in some way.
“Whether it’s in their school, if they start an anti-bullying program, or in their home, by saying, ‘Mom that’s not the right word to call someone,’” says Jasper. “It could be on their sports team, or wherever their circle of influence is. One small act can make a change, and we’re going to aggregate those small acts around the world to see exactly what kind of footprint the Museum will leave over time. I think it’s going to be a big one.”
A self-described prairie girl and proud mother of three sons, Jasper had originally opted to pursue an arts degree after high school. But when her father died during her freshman year, she switched to a post-secondary path with a more direct route to employment — narrowing her field of study thanks to advice from RRC Career Counsellor Michael Sawka.
“He was the one who pointed out CreComm as an option,” says Jasper, “and started my husband Greg on the path toward becoming a Civil Engineer through Red River’s Civil Engineering Technology Program).
“I knew (CreComm) was a perfect fit … all the elements really came together for me.”
A longtime writer with a “strategic mind,” Jasper was especially drawn to the program’s advertising and public relations streams, as well as the opportunity to put her creative skills to use.
After graduating with the equivalent of a double major, she was immediately hired by Investors Group, where she spent two years in the marketing department working with national sales staff and programs. When her husband moved to Ontario’s Lakehead University to finish his degree, she quickly found work in the campus’s public relations department — where she oversaw staff communications and media relations.
When the couple returned to Winnipeg, Jasper was hired by Imperial Group, then took time off to raise her three boys. Upon rejoining the workforce, she was hired as head of communications for the Workers Compensation Board — a particularly influential period in her job history.
“It’s where I got my addiction to change and growth in organizations — where I became a bit of a ‘change junkie,’” she says.
In the ensuing years, Jasper has affected change at the Teachers’ Retirement Fund of Manitoba, Investors Group, Boeing Canada Technology, and United Way of Winnipeg — at each stop, helping to increase operational efficiencies through communications, and at many, breaking new ground via national branding and communications strategies.
Along the way, she also helped develop the University of Winnipeg’s continuing education Communications program, was named the 2008 Communicator of the Year (along with friend and Museum ally Gail Asper) by the Canadian Public Relations Society of Manitoba, and served as both the Marketing Chair for Manitoba Homecoming 2010, and a task force member for Global College’s Human Rights City initiative. She has also won several international awards for communications excellence.
Jasper’s current job came as a result of her penultimate position — that of Director of Communications for Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a post she held form 2004 to 2009. During that time, she and her colleagues made history by securing the CMHR as the first national museum to be built in Canada since 1967, the first to be located outside the Ottawa region, and the first to be developed through a private/public partnership.
“(Museum visionary Izzy Asper’s) famous quote is, ‘Canadians have a tendency to aim for the middle,’” she says. “This museum is about aiming for the stars. It’s not worth doing if we’re not reaching for the stars.”
Click here to learn more about RRC’s Creative Communications program.
Click here to learn more about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.