February 11, 2016 11:26 pm
Updated: February 12, 2016 11:15 am

Sister of civil rights icon Viola Desmond cherishes her legacy

WATCH: The sister of civil rights leader, Viola Desmond, was a part of evening honouring her sister who has been featured in a Heritage Minute commercial.

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It was an evening of celebration for black women in Canada.

Hundreds gathered at Pier 21 to hear from storytellers like El Jones who opened the stage with her spoken word magic.

“This is a tribute to the women left out of history books. I’m talking about the women whose black beauty goes so far beyond looks cause when you say her name, our heads are always shook saying that woman is a giant who always gave and never took,” she rhymed.

Civil rights leader, Viola Desmond, is remembered by her sister Wanda.

Global Halifax/Alexa MacLean

One of the guests of honor was Wanda Robson, the 89-year-old sister of the latest Heritage Minute profile: Viola Desmond.

Robson said when she first heard a Heritage Minute was being produced as a tribute to the civil rights wave her sister created, she was tickled pink.

“I could hardly wait to see it and when I did see it, I wanted to see it again, which I did,” said Robson.


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Viola Desmond is considered to be Canada’s version of Rosa Parks. Desmond’s impact was felt nine years before Parks’.

She went to a movie at New Glasgow’s Roseland Theatre. Upon purchasing her ticket she sat in the lower bowl.

When the manager informed her that seating area was for white patrons only, she refused to leave.

A historical moment was sparked in the civil rights movement and having that moment remembered with a Heritage Minute is something Robson says her sister would modestly embrace.

“She would go Wanda, thank you very much, I only did what I thought was necessary, that’s the way she would say it,” Robson said.

If you would like to watch the Heritage Minute on Viola Desmond, you can visit Historica Canada’s website.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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