On Viola Desmond, the first Canadian woman to grace face of currency
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) 150 Stories series pays tribute to Canada‘s diversity, democratic principles, and multiculturalism by telling the stories of remarkable Canadian individuals, organizations, initiatives and historic events.
Viola Desmond: Canada’s Own Civil Rights Heroine
By Mandy Nyarko
Viola Desmond’s experiences inspired the civil rights movement in Canada and led to the repeal of segregation laws in Nova Scotia by 1954 yet this crucial piece of Canadian history is often overlooked or forgotten.
Viola exemplified immense bravery and a deep resolve to fight for her human rights; her story is a tale of courage and fearlessness in the face of racism and injustice.
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 6, 1914, Viola Desmond (née Davis), was a successful black entrepreneur who received training as a beautician at the Field Beauty Culture School in Montreal, one of the few schools in Canada that admitted black applicants. (She had previously been a teacher at a segregated school.) Viola and her husband Jack Desmond established a joint beauty parlor and barbershop to serve the black community in Halifax.