Friday, February 03, 2012

Viola Desmond, cont'd.

Mark Reynolds, expat Canadianist and father to the most charming online family I know, adds some time depth to the Viola Desmond story:
...not to take anything away from Dr Backhouse, but as a student in Nova Scotia, I was definitely aware of her story long before 1999. I cannot for the life of me remember why - I seem to remember reading an article on her in the Chronicle Herald, but I'm fairly certain she was in the Pantheon that was presented to us each February along with Buddy Day, the Maroons and William Hall. Viola was never given the context nor amount of attention she deserved - much easier to present Hall winning a VC from the Establishment than Desmond, stalwart against white racism. N.S. is still not always that great about grappling with the less flattering aspects of its history. In any case, someone Down East was keeping her memory alive. Darned Upper Canadians get the credit for everything.
Update:  Who's Buddy Day, you (I) ask?  Here's who.

PS I think we can see the implied smiley-face (irony alert) in Mark's last line -- but I should emphasize it wasn't Constance Backhouse claiming any firsts. That suggestion was mine.
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