Who is Viola Desmond? The first Canadian woman to grace front of banknote

Viola Desmond will be the first Canadian woman to grace the front of a banknote.

So who was Viola Desmond?

Nine years before Rosa Parks refused to give her seat on a bus to a white passenger in Alabama, Desmond exhibited a similar act of defiance for the sake of human rights.

On Nov. 8, 1946, Desmond went to a movie at New Glasgow’s Roseland Theatre and after purchasing her ticket, she sat in the lower bowl. When the manager informed her that seating area was for white patrons only, she refused to leave.

A police officer forcibly removed her, she spent the night in jail and faced a criminal charge for not paying a tax of three cents for a downstairs ticket – one penny more than she had paid for her upstairs ticket.

Desmond was convicted, paid a $20 fine and $6 in other costs.

Viola later sought support from the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP) and acquired a lawyer. They made two unsuccessful applications for appeal to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

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