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Just because the subject of human rights is in a museum, doesn't mean it's a discussion only to be had in the past tense. Human rights abuses still occur today, and those done in the past still have lasting effects.

Derek Nepinak today finished a 27-hour fast in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, inside a re-creation of Nelson Mandela's Robben Island prison cell. Nepinak was reflecting on and drawing attention to colonialism in Canada and apartheid South Africa.

"I chose this opportunity at this time because the good people here at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights put this exhibit together to share the message to the world that despite the challenges we face as human beings (and) the systems of oppression that are out there, we can still challenge these together. We can find hope and we can find love, and we might just find freedom at the end of the trail somewhere," Nepinak said to media when his fast ended at 1 this afternoon.

Nepinak broke his fast with water and berries.

He said his time in confined to the re-created cell was very uncomfortable.

"I spent most of (my time) awake trying to figure out how to sleep," he said.

Angela Cassie, senior vice president programs, exhibitions, and public affairs, said the museum's role is to create spaces for discussion and dialogue.

"When Derek approached us with this idea and helped us understand what his objectives were, we felt that that goal of creating opportunities to talk about human rights, about equality, and about taking action for change aligned with what we were doing as a museum," said Cassie.

Nepinak said he had considered just showing up and not leaving the exhibit for 27 hours, but decided there was no need to frame his actions as a protest or sit-in. Nepinak thanked the CMHR staff and the exhibit's curator.

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