Nova Scotia

Viola Desmond, civil rights activist, honoured with outdoor theatre screen

A new outdoor theatre has opened in north-end Halifax in honour of Nova Scotian civil rights activist Viola Desmond.

Theatre placed in Murray Warrington Park will be run by members of the community

The community group Hope Blooms helped create an theatre to honour civil rights activist Viola Desmond. (CBC)

A new outdoor theatre has opened in north-end Halifax in honour of black Nova Scotian civil rights activist Viola Desmond. 

A small crowd cheered as the new Viola Desmond Theatre was unveiled Sunday night.

Viola Desmond was jailed in the 1940's for sitting in the whites-only section of a New Glasgow theatre. Now she's been memorialized with her own outdoor theatre. (CBC)

It was a cold November day 69 years ago when Desmond took a stand in a New Glasgow movie theatre. 

In 1946, a decade before Rosa Parks, Desmond fought charges after she sat in a whites-only section of the theatre.

During the arrest, she was injured, fined $20 and held overnight in jail.

"Viola Desmond sat in a theatre and that's where she made that stand," said Jessie Jollymore, founder of Hope Blooms, the group behind the project. "And we thought wouldn't it be great to have a theatre in the community."

Desmond took the matter to court and is credited with helping to eventually end segregation in Nova Scotia.

"That reaches across all colour barriers, all ethnicities, it talks about just fairness and equality," said Tony Ince, Nova Scotia's minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

The theatre placed in Murray Warrington Park will show documentaries and films between May and October, and will be run by the community.

The $10,000 theatre was paid for by the province and spearheaded by Hope Blooms, which runs programs to help at-risk children and youth. 

The group runs a community garden and produces salad dressing with the help of children. It also runs a scholarship program.

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