Viola Desmond challenges racial segregation

May 9, 2017

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond. Nova Scotia Archives


In 1946, Viola Desmond, an African-Canadian woman, purchased a ticket to a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Although she had requested a more expensive main floor seat, she was sold a ticket to the balcony because the theatre had a policy of racial segregation. Desmond took a main floor seat anyway, and was arrested for failing to pay the amusement tax on it. She was convicted in a questionable legal proceeding. Her case aroused widespread controversy in Nova Scotia, and although the case was lost in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, it helped end racial segregation in the province in 1954.

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