Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued the following statement marking the 75th anniversaryNS Anniversary of Viola Desmond’s challenge to apartheid and discrimination:
On that day in 1946, Viola Desmond, an accomplished black Canadian businesswoman, refused to leave the white section of the Roseland Film Theater in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.I Desmond just wanted to see a movie that day, and do so with dignity. Instead, she was forcibly expelled from the cinema, then imprisoned, convicted, and fined.
“Exclusion and segregation, through laws, policies, and practices, have been a reality of black Canadians and their communities since before the Confederacy. M.’s brave act of defianceI Desmond was very bold and necessary. Her subsequent appeal inspired the pursuit of equality and the fight against racial discrimination across the country. By taking a stand against the injustice of apartheid, she helped advance the civil rights movement in Canada and laid the foundation for the movement fighting anti-black racism.
“It took decades for Mr.I Desmond was acquitted, after the Deputy Governor of Nova Scotia granted her a posthumous pardon in 2010. Since then, her contribution to Canadian society has been recognized in many ways. A postage stamp was issued by Canada Post in 2012 to honor the courage of Mr.I Desmond. In 2017, she was appointed a National historical figure by the Government of Canada. In 2018, she became the first Canadian woman and the first black Canadian to be depicted on a banknote in regular circulation in Canada. Its history is also part of the permanent collection of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
“NSI Desmond was a heroine, and her defiance of segregation and racial discrimination helped shape the Canada we know today. Unfortunately, the fight for equality is not over, as many black Canadians and their communities still face discrimination, racism and inequality of opportunity every day. The government is determined to put an end to this situation. On the occasion of this anniversary, I hope that the story of Mr.I Desmond and his quest for freedom, justice and equality will help motivate a new generation of Canadians to fight to end racism and to protect and promote human rights across the country.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I call on all Canadians to pay tribute to Viola Desmond today and recognize her courage and the work she has done to advance equality and the dedication she has shown to build a better, more equitable and inclusive country.”
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