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About Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond’s stand against racial-segregation in a New Glasgow theatre in 1946 was a major event for the Canadian civil rights movement. Desmond's high-profile fight against racism generated so much publicity that Nova Scotia was forced to throw out its segregation laws in 1954. All this happened nine years before American Rosa Parks took action in the United States, making Viola Desmond not only a civil rights trailblazer in Canada, but throughout North America.


Another nationally significant event happened in November 2018. The Bank of Canada released the ten dollar note that features Viola Desmond, making Desmond the first Canadian woman to be solely featured on Canadian currency.

Viola Desmond was born and raised in North End Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she had a successful hair salon and beauty product business. Viola was also the founder of The Desmond School of Beauty Culture which trained African Nova Scotian beauticians, who were denied admission to whites-only training schools. Her connection to North End Halifax is represented on the 10 dollar bill by a graphic map showing Gottingen and Agricola streets in the 1950s. The Viola Desmond 10 Dollar Bill Celebration was an opportunity for Halifax, Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada, and the rest of the nation to see Viola’s home community, and commemorate her achievements.​

Roseland Theatre New Glasgow Viola Desmond
Viola Desmond hair salon
Viola Desmond Civil Right Case Newspaper Clipping
Viola Desmond jail cell New Glasgow
Heritage Minutes Video

Heritage Minutes Video

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