Books

Viola Desmond's Canada

Graham Reynolds' book, Viola Desmond's Canada, provides a concise overview of the narrative of the Black experience in Canada.

Graham Reynolds

In 1946, Viola Desmond was wrongfully arrested for sitting in a whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S. In 2010, the Nova Scotia government recognized this gross miscarriage of justice and posthumously granted her a free pardon.

Most Canadians are aware of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a racially segregated bus in Alabama, but Viola Desmond's act of resistance occurred nine years earlier. However, many Canadians are still unaware of Desmond's story or that racial segregation existed throughout many parts of Canada during most of the 20th century. On the subject of race, Canadians seem to exhibit a form of collective amnesia.

Viola Desmond's Canada is a book that provides a concise overview of the narrative of the Black experience in Canada. Reynolds traces this narrative from slavery under French and British rule in the 18th century to the practice of racial segregation and the fight for racial equality in the 20th century. Included are personal recollections by Wanda Robson, Viola Desmond's youngest sister, together with important but previously unpublished documents and other primary sources in the history of Blacks in Canada. (From Fernwood)

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