Viola on the Ten

What do you know about the woman on the new $10 bill? This #internationalwomensday, we want to highlight the story of Viola Desmond, the Atlantic Canadian civil rights trailblazer who is at the heart of this summer’s cabaret Hey Viola! at the Confederation Centre.

“In November 1946, hair salon owner Viola Desmond went to a film at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, NS. But what began as a night at the movies became a night in prison. Unaware that the theatre was segregated, the Black Nova Scotian chose a main‐floor seat. When she refused to move to the balcony, where Black patrons were expected to sit, she was arrested and dragged out of the theatre.

For many people, the story would have ended there – but Desmond refused to accept the charges against her, and her case went all the way to Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court. By refusing to change seats and by fighting her conviction in court, Viola Desmond directly challenged segregation in Canada. Even though she ultimately lost her appeal, her stand against injustice galvanized Nova Scotia’s Black community and helped inspire Canada’s civil rights movement.

The justness of Desmond’s cause was officially recognized in 2010, when the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia posthumously pardoned her, removing her conviction from the historical record. In 2018, she became the first Canadian woman featured on a regularly circulating Canadian $10 bill. Desmond has also appeared on a Canadian postage stamp, has her own Heritage Minute and there is even a ferryboat in Halifax named in her honour.”

– One woman’s resistance, Viola Desmond’s Story, Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Learn more about Viola Desmond, and the performer bringing her story to the stage this summer:…/meet-krystle-dos…/

Theatre PEI


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