Viola Desmond 1st Nova Scotian honoured on new holiday
February break will celebrate a different person/event each year
Nova Scotia’s new February holiday will honour civil rights activist Viola Desmond next year, but it will then honour a different person or event each year, the government announced Monday.
Kelly Regan, minister for labour and advanced education, explained how it will work at Bedford South School. Nova Scotia students will suggest a permanent name for the new holiday and ideas for the next 12 people or events to be honoured.
"Each year, we'll celebrate a different contribution to Nova Scotia's storied past and diverse culture and learn more about our history in the process," she said.
A panel will review the suggestions and recommend names to the minister.
Regan said the name of the holiday, which should "instill pride in being Nova Scotian," and the first 12 people or things to be celebrated will be announced by the end of this school year.
The holiday will be celebrated on the third Monday of each February, giving Nova Scotians six statutory holidays per year.
Each class can submit one entry per category online until March 28.
The holiday's name, and the next 12 contributions to be celebrated, will be announced before the end of the school year.
Jailed for sitting in whites-only section
Viola Desmond was a black businesswoman jailed and fined in 1946 for refusing to give up her seat in the white section of a New Glasgow movie theatre.
Desmond, who owned a hairdressing business, fought unsuccessfully to appeal both her conviction and fine. Her court battle started the dismantling of Nova Scotia's segregation laws.
In 2010 she received a posthumous pardon from the Nova Scotia government. In 2012, she was featured on a commemorative stamp from Canada Post.
She even has a shoe named for her. Fluevog's "Desmond" was created to celebrate her "first significant step in equal rights for all," the company says. "We celebrate and honour Viola by naming this striking and confident pump after her."
Long Road to Justice: The Viola Desmond Story, a 45-minute documentary about Desmond, streams free online.