Comox connection to Viola Desmond

Great nephew of noted Canadian has local medical practice

  • Dec. 16, 2016 8:00 p.m.

Dr. Sterling Desmond has a practice in Comox. He is the great nephew of Viola Desmond

Scott Stanfield

Record staff

There’s a local connection with the late Viola Desmond who, in 2018, will become the first Canadian woman to appear on the front of a Canadian bank note.

Doctor Sterling Desmond, who has a medical practice in Comox, is the great nephew of the woman who was jailed in 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S.

“I think it’s inspirational,” said Desmond, who grew up in Winnipeg with a caucasian mother and a black father. “It doesn’t matter what race or what culture you are. The message is basically about inspiration, it’s about courage, it’s about the ability of someone in hard circumstances of standing up, and trying to do what at that moment in time they perceive is the right thing to do. In many ways, that means to take a line, a border, and erase that line or border and say, ‘We’re all equal, irrespective of race.’

“You can leverage the cards you’re dealt, but trying to be successful and trying to reach to help people — to me, that’s what she was trying to do,” he added.

Viola — who died in 1965 — was a businesswoman and a beautician. She also ran a beauty school. As many as 15 women — who had been denied admission to whites-only training schools — graduated each year from her school.

Viola’s face will adorn the front of Canada’s $10 bill. Other women have appeared on Canadian currency, but the Queen is the only woman to have graced the front of a bank note.

“If you fast forwarded her to today, I think she’d be trying to look at a different platform, or trying to raise the level of consciousness to say, ‘Look, we can’t keep staying in the same pond, and doing the same thing over and over again’,” Desmond said. “All it’s doing is putting a new face on something else that has never systemically changed.”

 

Just Posted

Police presence at Anna Place in Courtenay

Situation resolved peacefully

Summer seasonal farmers’ markets now open in the Comox Valley

Downtown Courtenay and Cumberland hosting outdoor markets

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Greenwood Trunk sewer line construction continues

Work on Ryan Road portion of project Monday

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Most Read