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Great Canadian Portraits

Winnipeg, the Forks - 1872

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A heretofore unknown oil painting of the junction of the rivers, Red foreground and Assiniboine far left (locally known as The Forks) showing the rapid growth that took place in some five years since Lionel Stephenson had painted the same scene in 1869.

The historic stone walls and round towers of Fort Garry in the far left background would be dismantled in another five years.

Below, another view of the same area c 1880, and a modern artist's conception.

On the left in all the images is the point of land on which French Canadian explorer Pierre de la Vérendrye built Fort Rouge, the first fort in the area, in 1738.

Winnipeg, The Forks - c 1875
Orig. oil on board - Size - 46 x 60 cm
Found - Pottageville, ON

To see the stunning surprise these Aboriginal People would get if they returned to the same site in 2010 Roll Me Over in disbelief...

IZZY ASPER MEMORIAL BUILDING - A key part of the memorial Izzy's daughter is building in his memory - besides the heavenly glow of approval bathing him from above - is Izzy holding the CanWest Charter of Human Rights & Freedoms, guaranteeing every journalist, working for his 200 plus publications, complete freedom to come up with new ways to praise all the wonderful things the Israelis are doing for/to Palestinian women, children, and men.

Great Canadian Insight

Fork U at the Forks: Just like its Métis people, Canada has treated its poverty-bedeviled Indian people badly - even the UN says so - being most generous with naming places after them, like the Assiniboine River below right, but spending its big bucks elsewhere to promote more important and more politically powerful groups. In Canada, poor Aboriginal people, just are not kosher...

"Where is my museum?" asks Salteaux Chief Peguis, left and below, who for the first half of the nineteenth century promoted peaceful existence with the Hudson's Bay Company and the many white peoples who followed it into his tribe's territories. The answer - "Fork U, Chief!"

Below, the blue dot is the vantage point for all the scenes painted above.

The Location of Fork U
- Chief Peguis' original tribal area is called The Forks because of the junction of the Assiniboine River with the mighty Red River, flowing in on the left from the US. Chief Peguis ceded land here to the original Selkirk settlers, among others, and till he died in 1864, was a tireless crusader for Indian rights against ruthless newcomers who sought to take advantage of his people all along the Red River Valley to Lake Winnipeg.

The promontory on the right, which was railway property for decades, is now, the prime real estate area in Winnipeg and is being redeveloped as the main tourist destination for the city.

Unfortunately, there is little there to see, beyond a huge Antique Mall which - surprise - has no antiques at all, because Winnipeg has no history of people with a salable material culture going back far enough...

But not for long.

Izzy Asper's daughter - Izzy was a member of one of the many immigrant groups who came into Winnipeg and made good as a newspaper magnate - has asked the Federal Government to give her 100 million plus to build the Izzy Asper Memorial Centre - which wags have dubbed it - on the site. It will probably feature a huge statue of Izzy in the foyer, arms extended - Pope like - to welcome the local Indian and Métis children to the Asper museum, that will feature historical truths sifted through his values, and the trials and tribulations of his family and his people, not theirs... (The Asper family will contribute to the memorial, as is to be expected, and other fellow tribesmen, like the Pollards and Tallmans - not to mention Stern, Silver, Goodman, Dorfman, Shankarow - are also donating to what they all obviously regard as a great heritage promotion opportunity for their people.)

Befuddled Aboriginals, once again, will probably wonder - where did we miss out when the moolah was handed out? Why didn't our community leaders get a gazzilion dollar museum to publicize our past and our cultural heroes? After all, weren't Chief Peguis and Louis Riel historic founders of the province of Manitoba; and wasn't Izzy only a new kid on the block, a paper boy who made good on his route? And alienated many an ethnic group - not to mention most Canadian journalists - with his celebrated - and widely publicized - ham-fisted editorial cleansing out of staff, from among his 200 publications, of writers who dared to stray from the strongly ethnocentric party line he enforced on his newspapers.

Enthused Larry Zolf (2003), "Asper was above anything else an unabashed Zionist and a proud Jew. He felt that Trudeau wasn't supportive enough of Israel and said so loud and clear. Today Izzy's National Post is the most strident pro-Israel newspaper in the country; Izzy's newspapers are careful not to tread on his toes on the subject of Israel... I miss him already..." Indeed, Izzy's primary passion made thousands of Canadian journalists who wanted to eat, or feed their families, walk in fear...


In 2007 the new Conservative Government - a minority government desperately looking for rich friends in all the right places - gave Gail Asper the 100,000,000 dollars she had asked for, from the public purse.

Then she asked for more. And got that as well, an additional $22,000,000 per year operating costs, from now till eternity.

Her father would be pleased with the chutzpah of his daughter at her unprecedented achievement.

In grateful thanks, to the taxpayers of Canada, who have funded her private dream in her father's memory, Gail has promised that the Board of Directors would not be disproportionately Jewish, as some have already projected, but be strictly representative of all ethnic groups of Canada, in direct proportion to their numbers in the population of the country as a whole.

In 2008, Gail Asper's supporters managed to finagle her the Order of Canada, based on her public spirited campaign to build a memorial museum to her father, financed mostly from the public purse. Now that's chutzpah... all around.

Sources say Gail Asper will shortly announce a competition for a huge bronze statue of her father to grace the entrance way to the Izzy Asper Museum. "After all," she is reported to have said, "it's only fitting. I did all this for him, and his unique view of what Canada should be about." See possible mock-up top.

Sorry Larry, but if the Halifax Explosion was the loudest in Canadian history then the biggest noise never heard in Canada was the thunderous silence in newspaper columns across the country when Izzy, one of Canada's top newspaper men, died, literally unsung; no journalist, on newspapers he didn't own, could bring him/herself to pen an obit to mourn his passing - with the sole exception of close personal friends and fellow tribesmen Larry Zolf and Edward Greenspon - probably because they could not in honesty, say stuff where the good outnumbered the bad which he could be said to have contributed to their craft, or the tone of civility in the country.

Could that also explain, why, while lots of fellow Jews have been announced as lead contributors to Izzy's daughter's campaign to pay for his memorial museum, no parallel rush in funding donations has been forthcoming from Canadian entrepreneurs of Indian, Métis, Inuit, Black, Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim backgrounds?

In fact, there were far, far more, laudatory and regretting columns lamenting the "passing" of John Honderich, when he was forced out as the Publisher of the Toronto Star the same year Izzy died. The thousands of Canadian journalists are well aware - they certainly write like it - that in a country where there are only two or three media companies - make that three guys who hire, and shrinking - that you can possibly find employment with, discretion is the better part of valour.

So it was really left up to Izzy's daughter and her family and friends, to resurrect him to the mythic stature he once held in his own mind and in their home. Now, if only they could figure out an angle to tap the public purse to pay for a hometown museum for this good ole boy...)

Watching it all, with practiced eye, Canada's Indians and Métis - extremely musical people - resign themselves, one again, to playing their traditional roles in Canadian society - second fiddle...

But then, hey, they're used to it; they've all been to Fork U, many times before...

Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005

Canadians protest exclusionary approach of human rights museum

TORONTO - Canadians are being asked to contact Governor General Michaelle Jean to ask her to withdraw her patronage of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, as proposed by the board of directors of Winnipeg's Asper Foundation.

Supported in large measure by taxpayer's funds provided by the municipal (Winnipeg), provincial (Manitoba) and federal Canadian governments, this museum is intended to focus attention on the horrors that befell European Jews.

According to reports, the museum will not include episodes of genocide that occurred before, during and after World War II, not only in Europe but elsewhere in the world, including Asia and Africa.

Commenting on the Asper Foundation's proposal, James Kafieh of Canadians for a Genocide Museum, a coalition of dozens of Canadian ethnic, religious and racial minorities who have come together to question the lack of inclusiveness and transparency in this project, said:

"We are calling upon Her Excellency, the Right Honorable Michaelle Jean, to withdraw her support of this initiative because we are not convinced that the Asper museum will be inclusive or equitable in its treatment of the many episodes of genocide and crimes against humanity that befouled not only 20th century Europe but other regions as well. Of course, we have no objection to an exhibit on the Holocaust, which took millions of Jewish and non-Jewish lives, but that crime is well-known and already extensively treated in museums around the world.

"We believe a Canadian institution funded largely by the taxpayers should not suggest that any atrocity is more deserving of attention than others, or that the suffering that befell one community should be made to appear as being more worthy of memory than those endured by others. We want a museum that is not partial or prejudiced and that is developed and managed openly instead of behind closed doors. The Asper Foundation's proposal does not meet these criteria. Their spokespersons are not being candid in responding to our legitimate concerns.

"Accordingly, we are asking our friends and supporters to contact the governor general and petition her to withdraw her support, at least until there are public assurances that our frankly stated concerns have been addressed. Her majesty's representative in Canada should not be engaged in partisanship nor in endorsing a project that is so very controversial."

The governor general may be contacted by mail (no postage necessary within Canada) at: Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1, or via e-mail at info@gg.ca.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, January 29, 2006, No. 5, Vol. LXXIV

Museum Politics

Another danger to Canadian heritage comes when politics, influence, and power comes into play, for instance when the daughter of the late media mogul Izzy Asper put on her considerable pressure to get a museum built at the Forks in Winnipeg, to memorialize her father and his people's heritage.

Good, right, that's what we're all about!

Trouble is there is no bottomless pit in the museum fund, and she wanted gazillions of dollars from the public purse to do justice to her father's memory.

So what's wrong with doing a good job for your pop?

Nothing except for the fact that the Izzy Asper Memorial Museum siphoned away the museum money that countless local museums across Canada lost as a result, and depended on to operate...

To make the Asper family happy the government funding for museums was just removed from the little folks across the country and given to people with clout who matter.

This happens in Canadian Television production as well, where people with influence get millions of public funds and the rest are told so and so got it, there's nothing left for you! Not this year, or next year, or the year after that!

Museum curators in Western Canada told us they were informed that their usual museum support funds would not be available to their museums.

"Izzy has it all," was the way it was put to us. "And for years to come!"

Then to top it all off they gave her the Order of Canada for pulling this one off, from the taxpayer, of course...