Nova Scotia's Viola Desmond honoured in new Heritage Minute
The latest Canadian Heritage Minute honours a Maritimer who stood up to racism by sitting down in a movie theatre.
The story of Viola Desmond's arrest in 1946 for sitting in the white’s-only section of a New Glasgow movie theatre has become familiar to Maritimers. Now, officials at Historica Canada say they want to share her story with all Canadians.
Desmond has become known as Canada's Rosa Parks. However, the actress who plays Desmond in the Heritage Minute says there's a difference between Parks and Desmond.
“Rosa Parks took a very significant but purposeful stand on that bus. Viola just, she just wanted to be treated as a person. She just really wanted to go see a movie,” says actress Kandyse McLure.
The executive director of the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia, Russell Grosse, says Desmond’s Heritage Minute is long overdue.
“It says that her legacy lives on. You know, sometimes we think that the history is forgotten and, you know, the story of Viola Desmond is a true fact that history still evolves today,” says Grosse.
Henderson Paris is a town councillor in New Glasgow and a civil rights activist. He says watching the Heritage Minute is really an emotional experience.
“Anytime with those sort of things that relates directly to our past and the struggle and the challenges and the hurts that people of colour have felt and endured, it always, always sends a little chill up your spine,” says Paris.
Paris says it's important that Desmond's story be known outside of Nova Scotia, in large part, because of the change it helped create.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh