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Hamilton public school to be named after civil rights icon Viola Desmond

Hamilton public school to be named after civil rights icon Viola Desmond

Hamilton public school to be named after civil rights icon Viola Desmond image
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A Canadian civil rights pioneer and businesswoman is set to have her name don a Hamilton elementary school in the fall.

Viola Desmond, arrested in the ’40s for refusing to leave a whites-only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, N.S., will be the namesake for a new East Hamilton school when it opens in September.

The Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) recently approved the name Viola Desmond Elementary School during a standing committee meeting from suggestions in a couple of surveys involving stakeholder groups. The board said over 80 names were pitched for two new schools.

Read more: Hamilton public schools get $27.8 million to protect against COVID-19

The other new name is Collegiate Elementary School in Lower Stoney Creek.

“Our community members and School Naming Advisory Committees presented Trustees with a wonderful selection of names that reflect HWDSB’s vision, mission, and commitments,” HWDSB chair Dawn Danko said in a release.

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The new schools are a part of a funding announcement from the provincial government, which doled out $6 million to support the revitalization of the school at the Collegiate site, and $15.5 million for a 682-pupil elementary school beside the current Glen Brae school. 

Desmond’s arrest in Nova Scotia in 1946 was one of the most publicized incidents of racial discrimination in Canadian history and helped start the modern civil rights movement.

An entrepreneur with a beauty products line, she spent hours in jail and had to pay a $20 fine for tax evasion after sitting in main-floor seats reserved for white patrons at the Roseland Film Theatre.

Desmond would become the new face of Canada’s $10 bill, which entered circulation in November of 2018.

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