Remembering Viola Desmond: A clicktivist moment!

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Remembering Viola Desmond: A clicktivist moment!

There has been a scurry of social media activity around Halifax over the past two weeks as the City / Transit Authority launched an online survey to determine the name of a new ferry to work the harbour waters here.  There are five nominees: two soldiers, a hero of the Halifax explosion, a recently deceased local politician, and Viola Desmond.

For those who do not know the Viola Desmond story, here is a recent Heritage Minute that tells her story as a black Nova Scotian woman, caught in the web of segregation laws in 1950s Nova Scotia.  (Viola Desmond is often referred to as 'Canada's Rosa Parks', though her act of disobedience was actually many years earlier.)

And here's a link to a related article in Nova Scotia Advocate - an on-line alternative media in Halifax, that provides both background and context. 

Bottom-line: this is a military town that goes to inordinate lengths to glorify its military heroes in its boats, buildings and statues. (The other two ferries are both named after soldiers.) So it would be great to 'rock the boat' just a bit this time and get the next Halifax Ferry named after Viola Desmond.

There has been an active little social media campaign reaching across the black, progressive, and women's communities here. But the competition will surely be tough: a single e-mail from an officer inside the navy base to the troops will probably generate 5,000 votes for "their" candidate. 

So if Babblers can take a minute to vote at the site below, - and perhaps even share this message in your own circles, - that support would be much appreciated! 

The deadline is Monday at midnight! (And its one vote per device. Just saying ....)


swallow swallow's picture

Awesome, clicked. 

Also, replying so the topic will show up on active topics. :)




Viola Desmond seems like an excellent choice.


Thank's for the *bump*, swallow. 

One modest correction on the introductory blurb: Viola Desmond's run in with the law was actually in 1946 (not 'the 50s'). 

For more information on Viola and the ferry campaign there's a related Facebook page: 'Let's Rock the Boat' -



Mr. Magoo

Well, that was easy enough.


Its 'Get Out The Vote' time down at the harbour!



Voted for Viola! (Nothing against the others; I'm sure they'll find suitable things to be named). But I suspect that Black Women, and women other than royals and perhaps saints, are greatly underrepresented in names in Halifax as elsewhere.

I'm glad I saw this, because the vote finishes on the 15th.


Another vote for Viola.


So 24 hours left to 'Get Out the Vote' in a grassroots community effort to have an icon of the Canadian civil rights movement receive some basic recognition in her home town.   

If you can spare a minute to click on the link below and vote for Viola Desmond, it would be appreciated!  As Robert Devet wrote in the NS Advocate earlier this week:  

"Racism in the beginning, racism in the middle, racism at the end. It would be silly to think that naming a ferry after Viola Desmond will somehow make up for historic wrongs. And even sillier to believe that an online vote taking all of one minute would imply that things are so much better now. Assuming that she even wins, of course.

Nonetheless, a ferry bearing Viola’s name would be a wonderful sight to behold."




Thanks to all Babblers who took a moment to vote on-line: the results were just announced today by the Mayor and against all odds - VIOLA DESMOND WON!  

The announcement was made at the Black Cultural Centre in Cherry Brook, NS - to the huge delight of the assembled members of NS's African-Canadian community. A great way to commemorate the legacy of Viola and also to celebrate Black History Month.



And for anyone naive enough to believe that racial discrimination in NS is a thing of the ancient past, here is a contemporary news story that verges on the unbelievable:

"In the early 1800s, the government provided land lots in North Preston to Black Loyalists, but not legal deeds to the properties. Homeowners who don't have deeds to their land can't sell it or legally transfer it to family members. Through the years there have been other attempts to solve the issue, but deeds were never issued."


Mr. Magoo

Nice news.  If this were the U.S. we'd get to enjoy earsful from Tea Partiers and "small w" white supremacists vowing to swim the harbour with their car strapped to their back, rather then board the Viola Desmond.

Should we start the rumour that once she sees service, white cars will have to take their place at the back of the ship?  Or is that just trolling?


For better or worse, the Halifax Ferry has been people only (no cars) since shortly after they built the bridge across The Narrows (sometime in the 1950s, I believe).

But given Ms Desmond's experience at the Roseland Theatre, there may be some form of divine justice in obliging certain groups of paying customers to sit in whatever qualifies as "the balcony" of a ferry. And in a gale (like we are having today) at that! 


Yes, I'm glad we were able to help you out. You do know that there is an important public transport terminal in northeastern Paris (tram stop, buses, suburban métro train) named Rosa Parks!

The English version is just a stub


One should try to learn one new thing every day, lagatta. And this is mine for today - thanks!  


There is also a Chico Mendes Park in Perugia (one of the places I studied in Italy), in a former industrial area beneath the historic centre (which is on a hill, of course). Quite a large park: When I last visited there in 2006, it was just an empty field and not very impressive, but now the trees and foliage have grown. While they don't grow as wildly as in the forests of Brazil, they do grow faster in central Italy than in our frozen waste...

There are many interesting things to learn about in towns, cities and villages. Black History month is almost over, but there are still places to learn about the struggle against racial discrimination and how people of African origins (either directly or immigrants from the US or the Caribbean) got a foothold.

Of late there has been more of a push to restore Indigenous names.

I don't see anything about the Viola Davis ferry at Spacing Atlantic:


The new Viola Desmond Ferry was launched in Halifax today, with all the appropriate civic fanfare and recognition for her role fighting racism in Nova Scotia.

A nice touch was the accompanying sign that welcomes passengers with a gentle 'Please have a seat wherever you would like'.


swallow swallow's picture