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Article

Viola Desmond

Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis), businesswoman, civil rights activist (born 6 July 1914 in Halifax, NS; died 7 February 1965 in New York, NY). Viola Desmond built a career and business as a beautician and was a mentor to young Black women in Nova Scotia through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture. In 1946, Viola Desmond challenged racial discrimination when she refused to leave the segregated Whites-only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Viola Desmond was arrested, jailed overnight and convicted without legal representation for an obscure tax offence as a result. Despite the efforts of the Nova Scotian Black community to assist her appeal, Viola Desmond was unable to remove the charges against her and went unpardoned in her lifetime. Desmond’s courageous refusal to accept an act of racial discrimination provided inspiration to later generations of Black persons in Nova Scotia and in the rest of Canada. In 2010, Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis issued Desmond a free pardon. In December 2016, the Bank of Canada announced that Viola Desmond would be the first Canadian woman to be featured by herself on the face of a banknote — the $10 note released on 19 November 2018. Viola Desmond was named a National Historic Person by the Canadian government in 2018.

Editorial

Black Female Freedom Fighters

"To be black and female in a society which is both racist and sexist is to be in the unique position of having nowhere to go but up," said Rosemary Brown.

A staunch feminist and a socialist, and Canada’s first Black female member of a provincial legislature, Rosemary Brown battled for equality and human rights in her lifetime. Black women have endured discrimination in Canada — and as seen in this exhibit, much worse — over the course of history. This is but a brief overview of advocates, activists and catalysts for change; those who fought, pushed back and, as Brown said, demonstrated to ensuing generations that there was nowhere to go but up.

Six Black female freedom fighters are featured here: Marie-Joseph Angélique, Chloe Cooley, Harriet Tubman, Mary Ann Shadd, Viola Desmond and Rosemary Brown.

Article

Carrie Best

Carrie Mae Best (née Prevoe), OC, ONS, LLD, human rights activist, author, journalist, publisher and broadcaster (born 4 March 1903 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia; died 24 July 2001 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia). Sparked by incidents of racial discrimination, Carrie Best became a civil rights activist. Co-founder of The Clarion, one of the first newspapers in Nova Scotia owned and published by Black Canadians, she used the platform to advocate for Black rights. As editor, she publicly supported Viola Desmond in her case against the Roseland Theatre. Best used her voice in radio and print to bring positive change to society in Nova Scotia and Canada.

Article

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

Located in Cherry Brook, near Dartmouth (Halifax Regional Municipality), the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia has been open to the public since 1983. It is run by the Black Cultural Society, created in 1977. The centre is both a museum and a gathering place where people can explore the history and heritage of Black communities in Nova Scotia.

Article

Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition for the Performance of Canadian Music/Concours national de musique Eckhardt-Gramatté

Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition for the Performance of Canadian Music/Concours national de musique Eckhardt-Gramatté. Held annually beginning in 1976 on the campus of Brandon University, this competition rotates between piano, strings (violin, viola, and cello) and voice.

Article

Steven Gellman

Steven (David) Gellman. Composer, pianist, teacher, b Toronto 16 Sep 1947; premiere prix analysis (Paris Conservatory) 1975, premiere prix composition (Paris Conservatory) 1976.

Editorial

Women on Canadian Banknotes

Though Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on the $20 bill since she was eight years old, identifiable Canadian women have only appeared on a Canadian banknote once. In 2004, the statue of the Famous Five from Parliament Hill and Olympic Plaza in Calgary, and the medal for the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award were featured on the back of the $50 note. They were the first Canadian women to appear on our currency. However, in 2011, they were replaced by an icebreaker named for a man (see Roald Amundsen). The new bill was part of a series of notes meant to highlight technical innovation and achievement, but the change sparked controversy. Other than the image of a nameless female scientist on the $100 note issued in 2011, and two female Canadian Forces officers and a young girl on the $10 bill issued in 2001, Canadian women were absent from Canadian bills.

On 8 March 2016, International Women’s Day, the Bank of Canada launched a public consultation to choose an iconic Canadian woman who would be featured on a banknote, released in the next series of bills in 2018. More than 26,000 submissions poured in. Of those, 461 names met the qualifying criteria, and the list was pared down to a long list of 12 and finally a short list of five. The final selection will be announced on 8 December 2016.

But how did we get here?

Article

Esprit Orchestra

The Esprit Orchestra. Toronto orchestra dedicated to the performance and commissioning of contemporary music, established in 1983 by Alex Pauk (it was known as Esprit Contemporain until 1986).

Article

Heritage Minutes

The Heritage Minutes collection is a bilingual Canadian legacy project comprised of 60-second short films, each depicting a significant person, event or story in Canadian history. They are produced by Historica Canada, the not-for-profit organization that is also responsible for publishing this encyclopedia. First released in 1991, the Heritage Minutes have been shown on television, in cinemas and online, and have become a part of Canadian culture. Today, the collection includes 90 episodes. 

Article

Sylliboy Case

Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Gabriel Sylliboy is believed to be the first to use the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty to fight for Canada’s recognition of treaty rights. In his court case, R. v. Sylliboy (1928), he argued that the 1752 treaty protected his rights to hunt and fish, but he lost the case and was subsequently convicted. In 1985, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R. v. Simon — another case concerning Mi’kmaq hunting rights — it found that the 1752 treaty did in fact give Mi’kmaq people the right to hunt on traditional territories. This judgment vindicated both Sylliboy and James Simon of the 1985 case. In 2017, almost 90 years after his conviction, Sylliboy received a posthumous pardon and apology from the Government of Nova Scotia.

Article

Canada Post Corporation

The CPC, under the Canada Post Corporation Act, has a broad mandate to operate a postal service for the transmission of messages, information, funds and goods and to provide other related services.

Article

Portia White

Portia May White, contralto, teacher (born 24 June 1911 in Truro, NS; died 13 February 1968 in Toronto, ON). Portia White broke through the colour barrier to become the first Black Canadian concert singer to win international acclaim. Considered one of the best classical singers of the 20th century, her voice was described by one critic as “a gift from heaven.” She was often compared to the celebrated African American contralto Marian Anderson. White was named a “person of national historic significance” by the Government of Canada in 1995.

Article

William Cyril Desmond Pacey

William Cyril Desmond Pacey, professor, literary critic (b at Dunedin, NZ 1 May 1917; d at Fredericton 4 July 1975). Educated at University of Toronto and Cambridge he taught English at University of Manitoba (1940-44) before moving to University of New Brunswick, where he remained.

Article

Norma Lee Bisha

Norma Lee Bisha was principal viola 1956-66 in the CBC Halifax Orchestra, a member of the Canadian Viola Society, and taught at Brandon University 1966-8 and at the University of Saskatchewan in 1970. She was second violin, then viola, of the Amati String Quartet. Her pupils included Neal Gripp.