“Viola Desmond changed the course of history”

Business 10 December, 2016

In 2010, when she was Governor General of Nova Scotia, Mayann Francis granted a formal pardon to Viola Desmond. This Scotian was arrested and fined in 1946 because she was sitting in a restricted section for blacks in New Glasgow cinema. It will appear on the next $ 10 bills.

Last spring, when she received an honorary doctorate from Dalhousie University, Ms. Francis said she was still a victim of racism today because the clerk watching closely when she enters a store, thinking the color of his skin makes it more likely to be a thief. Press spoke with Ms. Francis.

How do you welcome the news that M me Desmond will be on the $ 10 bill?

I learned while I was at the doctor’s office Thursday for a bad cold. It was immediately raised. I’m really proud. Viola Desmond changed the course of history in Canada. After his conviction, there has been more attention to discrimination and segregation.

When have you heard of it first?

In the 90s, when I was in Toronto, with a business woman friend for whom Viola Desmond was a source of inspiration. When I was young in the 50s and 60s, we did not talk to her at school. It is a pity that it is an example for young people. It was one of the first female black business she founded a school for beauticians because black women were not allowed in the other schools. If his car was not broken down in New Glasgow, it would not have been in this film and she would not have given up her career. It’s a big mess.

At the time, was there segregation across Canada?

Not in cinemas Halifax, where lived Viola Desmond. She had never experienced that before going to New Glasgow. When he was asked to go to the balcony, in the area reserved for blacks, she refused. But at the time when blacks saw that there were only white people in a trade, they understood without either explicit that they were not welcome.

Have you been discriminated against when you were young?

I grew up in a multicultural district of Sydney, so I did was aware that when going into town. Later, when I went to study in Halifax, I have often seen apartments available when we called, but mysteriously were taken when we presented in person five minutes. When I came back in the 80s, after studying and a career in Ontario and the United States, I found that even at that time, there were not many black employees in the stores. And today, I am followed by clerks in stores, so we let my friends still white.

Viola Desmond became a successful businesswoman when he was no affirmative action programs or allocation of a portion of public contracts to firms whose owners belong to an ethnic minority. What do you think of this type of program?

Positive discrimination has long existed in the federal government, but we did not see so many women, disabled or members of visible minorities. So I’m not sure that it works. In theory, it is well to encourage some people, as did Justin Trudeau for his cabinet. But it is imperative that it be equal competence. Otherwise, it leads to failure people favored by affirmative action. It must also avoid forming ghettos that will be the only opportunities for women and visible minorities.

Why Black Lives Matter movement is it stronger in the US than in Canada?

There were demonstrations last summer in Toronto. This is not as strong here, but it exists. There are grave injustices against indigenous people, women whose disappearance or murder has never been solved.

Some African Americans claim that the descendants of slaves are compensated. What do you think ?

This is a very intense debate that I have not followed closely. All I know is that you can not necessarily put the past behind us. Sometimes you have to face it.

In Quebec in recent years, white actors were disguised figure to represent persons with dark skin. This practice has been denounced as “blackface” a racist tradition of American vaudeville, initially in English-Canadian media. Some Quebec consider it an import of US racial tensions. What do you think ?

It’s incredible. There is no shortage of black actors for the roles of blacks. It’s not even a question of racism, it is an issue of respect for a human being.

He would not be more acceptable for a black actor comb figure in white?

The question does not arise because it would be impossible to have enough makeup to turn black skin white skin.