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New Vaughan school to be named after Canadian civil rights icon

Viola Desmond Public School will open at the intersection of Farrell Road and Via Romano Boulevard next fall

AURORA – A new elementary school in York Region will be named after Canadian civil rights activist Viola Desmond. The new school will open in the fall and be located in the City of Vaughan at the intersection of Farrell Road and Via Romano Boulevard. “It is an honour and a privilege to name one of our schools after a Canadian civil rights icon,” said Board Chair, Corrie McBain.

“The experience of Viola Desmond reminds us of the history of black Canadians in our country.”

“Viola Desmond is a Canadian hero,” said Trustee Dr. Elizabeth Sinclair who represents Vaughan Wards 3 and 4 where the school will be built. “To be able to recognize her contributions to dismantling racial segregation and inequality is a great honour and central to the Board’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan priority of championing equity and inclusivity.”

Viola Desmond was a teacher and an entrepreneur. She operated a training academy for young black women who were often excluded from local programs. In 1946, Viola Desmond challenged racial discrimination at a Nova Scotian cinema by refusing to leave an area designated for white persons.

The police forcibly removed her, injured her hip and held her overnight in prison. Desmond was then fined and charged with defrauding the Government of Nova Scotia. After this experience, Desmond protested against the Nova Scotian government’s charges which stemmed from racial discrimination.

In 2010, Desmond received a posthumous free pardon from the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and in November 2018 she became the first Canadian woman to appear alone on the $10 bill.

York Region District School Board is the third largest school district in Ontario with over 124,000 students in 177 elementary schools and 33 secondary schools. York Region students consistently perform above average in provincial testing and the Board is one of the top achievers in Ontario. For more information about York Region District School Board, please visit the Board website and follow @YRDSB on Twitter.