Viola Desmond’s fight for justice and civil rights
Earlier this week, Canada began circulating a new $10 bill. But what does this have to do with Velsoft?
Other than the fact that Velsoftians like to earn and spend money, the new bank note features a portrait of Viola Desmond, who is credited with starting Canada’s civil rights movement after she was arrested for sitting in a whites-only section of a movie theatre in 1946. That theatre was located in New Glasgow, and the building where this took place is situated across the street from the Velsoft head office.
Desmond became a social justice icon when she challenged racial segregation laws after refusing to leave the floor section of the Roseland Theatre, which at the time was reserved for only white people, with black people being forced to sit in the balcony. The beautician and salon owner was subsequently arrested, taken to jail and fined. She later appealed the unlawful conviction, which is acknowledged as leading to the elimination of segregation in the province. Desmond, who died in 1965, was pardoned in 2010.
The former Roseland Theatre building was purchased by Jamie MacGillivray a few years ago. The lawyer, who owns and has renovated several properties in downtown New Glasgow, is restoring the historic building to house a restaurant.
Those of us who work at the Velsoft head office have been able to watch as the building has been renovated over the past few years.
The three-storey Roseland building began its life as a silent movie theatre in 1913, and was updated to show films with sound in 1929. In the mid to late 1900s, the Roseland Theatre became part of the Odeon Cinemas chain, and then ceased operating as a theatre. In the early 2000s, a cabaret opened in the space. The Roseland Cabaret closed in 2011 for renovations, and the building was sold to MacGillivray in 2015, saving it from the wrecking ball as it had been condemned.
Since purchasing the structure, MacGillivray Properties has replaced the roof, gutted the interior, and restored the front wall.
MacGillivray had planned to pay tribute to Desmond with artwork placed on the north wall of the building, holding a contest that received more than 500 submissions. However, because of complaints of cultural appropriation and lack of proper consultation with the black community, this is now in the hands of a committee chaired by local human rights activist Henderson Paris, who will determine whether the artwork will be displayed on the building.
The street that runs alongside the Roseland building and the Velsoft head office was renamed Viola’s Way in a ceremony this summer, with the hope that it will serve as a reminder that change can happen with courage, strength, and determination.
Facts about the new $10 bill:
- It’s the first regularly circulated Canadian bank note to feature a Canadian woman. Desmond is also the first black person to be featured on a Canadian bank note. (While Queen Elizabeth II is and has been featured on several Canadian bank notes, she’s not Canadian!)
- It’s Canada’s first vertically oriented bank note.
- It has enhanced security features, including a color-shifting eagle feather, to prevent counterfeiting.
- It’s printed on polymer, which lasts longer than paper bank notes.
- Along with the portrait of Viola Desmond, the new $10 bill features other images and symbols that represent Canada’s ongoing pursuit of rights and freedoms: the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, an eagle feather representing the ongoing journey toward recognizing rights and freedoms for Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and an excerpt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- It includes a pattern of laurel leaves, an ancient symbol of justice, which is found in the grand entrance hall of the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as a map of the North End of Halifax, where Desmond lived and worked.
- The Bank of Canada is changing its approach to issuing new bank notes, issuing a new note every few years instead of all five denominations within a short time frame. The next $5 note will feature a new portrait subject and supporting imagery, and Canadians will have input on the design as they did with the $10 bill.
What’s in the Pipeline
- Jan is working on CA course components and eLearning QA.
- Dylan is creating graphics for custom and internal customers.
- Ben is working on custom projects.
- Carol is writing blogs, and editing new courses and refreshing older courses.
- Sydney is creating custom eLearning courses.
Courses released this month:
Here is the official count of courses for both courseware and eLearning: