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Viola Desmond

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Viola Desmond

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On the evening of 8 November 1946, Halifax businesswoman Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis), made an unplanned stop in the small community of New Glasgow after her car broke down en route to a business meeting in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Told she would have to wait a few hours for the repair, she decided to see the movie The Dark Mirror, starring Olivia de Havilland, at the Roseland Theatre. Desmond requested a ticket for a seat on the main floor (“One down, please.”). Without informing Desmond, the ticket seller instead handed her a ticket to the balcony, the section generally reserved for non-white customers.

After being challenged by the ticket-taker, who informed her that her ticket was for an upstairs seat, Desmond returned to the cashier and asked to exchange her ticket for a downstairs one. The cashier refused, saying, “I'm sorry, but I'm not permitted to sell downstairs tickets to you people.” Realizing that the cashier was referring to the colour of her skin, Desmond decided to take a seat on the main floor anyway.

Henry MacNeil, manager of the Roseland Theatre, confronted Desmond. He argued that the theatre had the right to “refuse admission to any objectionable person.” Desmond pointed out that she had been admitted, and had then attempted to exchange her balcony ticket for a main floor one. She had even offered to pay the difference in cost, but was refused. “When she declined to leave her seat, a police officer was called. He dragged Desmond out of the theatre, injuring her hip and knee in the process, and took her to the town lock-up. Shocked and frightened, she maintained her composure, sitting bolt upright in her cell all night long, awaiting her trial the following morning.”

In court, Magistrate Roderick MacKay, the only legal official present, charged Desmond with attempting to defraud the provincial government based on her alleged refusal to pay a one-cent amusement tax ( the difference in tax between upstairs and downstairs ticket prices). Despite her insistence that, at the time, her offer to pay the difference had been refused, he fined her $26. At no point was Desmond provided with counsel or informed that she was entitled to it. Most notably, the issue of race was never mentioned even though it was clear that Desmond's real ‘offence’ was to violate the Roseland Theatre’s implicit segregated seating rule.

On the advice of Mrs. Pearleen Oliver, a regular patron of Desmond’s beauty parlour and the wife of the Reverend William Pearly Oliver, Viola sought support from the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP). Even with the assurance of support from the NSAACP if she appealed the conviction, Desmond’s husband Jack, a prominent businessman in Halifax’s Black community, objected to the appeal. “Take it to the Lord with a prayer,” was his suggestion. Others in the community were more encouraging. Carrie Best, the founder of The Clarion newspaper and an outspoken advocate of racial equality, took a special interest in the case. Her paper closely covered Desmond's story, often featuring it on the front page, and drawing greater attention to the injustice of her conviction. The Viola Desmond Heritage Minute ends with Best asking Desmond whether she plans to appeal her conviction. With courageous determination, Viola Desmond says that she will.

Subsequently, Desmond’s lawyer made two unsuccessful applications for appeal to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, after which legal action on the case ceased. At no point in the Supreme Court proceedings was the issue of racial discrimination ever raised by her legal defense. When dismissing the case, Justice William Lorimer Hall said: “One wonders if the manager of the theatre who laid the complaint was so zealous because of a bona fide belief that there had been an attempt to defraud the province of Nova Scotia of the sum of one cent, or was it a surreptitious endeavour to enforce a Jim Crow rule by misuse of a public state.”

On 15 April 2010, Viola Desmond was granted a posthumous pardon by Nova Scotia Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis. The pardon, accompanied by a public declaration and apology from the province, recognized that Desmond’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice and that charges should never have been laid.

CAST
  • Viola Desmond – Kandyse McClure
  • Carrie Best – Melannee Murray
  • Ticket Seller – Stacie Harrison
  • Henry MacNeil,Theatre Manager – Kevin Rothery
  • Reverend Oliver – Dwight Lane
  • Jack Desmond – Kudjo Fiakpui
  • Police Officer – Jodi Stecyk

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Terry Fox

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Terry Fox

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Following a bone scan on 4 March, 1977 to investigate severe pain in Terry Fox’s right leg, his orthopedic surgeon’s worst suspicions were confirmed – Fox had osteogenic sarcoma, a type of bone cancer that often starts in the knee. Because the cancer spreads quickly, doctors felt Fox’s best chance for survival was amputating his right leg, followed by chemotherapy.

On 9 March 1977, when Fox was only 18, doctors amputated his right leg 15cm above the knee. The night before his life-changing surgery, Fox read something in Runner’s World magazine that revealed a new path – one that would lead to his place in Canadian history. The article was about Dick Traum, an amputee who had run the New York City Marathon. Fox showed it to a nurse the next morning, saying, “Someday, I’m going to do something like that.”

Within weeks of his surgery, Fox was walking with the help of an artificial leg. Despite the physically and emotionally draining ordeal of chemotherapy, he felt fortunate compared to other children he had seen at the clinic, many of whom were dying. Not only did he feel compassion for them, but also a sense of responsibility that came with being a survivor. He became determined to do something to help. Inspired by Traum’s example, Fox decided he would run across Canada to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

“I’ve seen people in so much pain. The little bit of pain I’m going through is nothing. They can’t shut it off, and I can’t shut down every time I feel a little sore” (from Terry’s journal).

His prosthesis underwent several modifications so it could better withstand the impact of long-distance running, but it was still awkward and uncomfortable. Characteristically, Fox persisted, and began his cross-country Marathon of Hope on 12 April 1980, dipping his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean near St. John’s, Newfoundland. It was a cold, wet start to his epic journey along the Trans-Canada Highway.

Typically, Fox would wake up before the crack of dawn and run about 42 km (roughly a marathon) each day. He was supported by long-time friend Doug Alward, who drove the van, and by his brother, Darrell, who would run alongside Terry, collecting donations from onlookers in whatever receptacle he could find.

"Twenty-six miles is now my daily minimum. It is a beautiful, quiet, peaceful country. I love it” (from Terry’s journal). In addition to coming close to being hit by cars or trucks on a few occasions while running across the Atlantic Provinces and Québec, Fox was disappointed by the poor reception in those provinces, where very few people seemed to know about his Marathon of Hope.

But by the time Fox hit Ontario, national media coverage had picked up greater momentum. This was due in part to the efforts of Bill Vigars, from the Canadian Cancer Society, who scheduled public gatherings along the way to capitalize on Terry’s approachable and earnest manner. The goal was to put a face to the Marathon of Hope, and soon people came out in droves. The coverage was such that even the Provincial Police volunteered to accompany him to ensure his safety on the road.

“If I died, I would die happy because I was doing what I wanted to do. How many people could say that? (…) I want to set an example that will never be forgotten" (from Terry’s journal).

After being welcomed like a national hero in Southern Ontario, Terry embarked on the second half of his cross-country journey, taking him across the rugged terrain of Northern Ontario, through towns like Craighurst, Blind River, and Marathon. However, things changed dramatically just outside Thunder Bay on September 1, 1980, when he started to cough.

The cancer had invaded his lungs. Terry was forced to stop running. By this time, he had run for 143 days and covered 5,373 km.

On September 18, 1980, Terry Fox became the youngest Companion of the Order of Canada in a special ceremony in his home town of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia.

By February 1, 1981, Terry had achieved his dream of raising $1 for every person in Canada.

Although Terry vowed to complete his cross-Canada run, he was unable to return to the road. He died on June 28, 1981 at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, British Columbia, only a month before his 23rd birthday.

Terry Fox ran more than halfway across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Every year, millions of people around the world continue the Marathon of Hope in his name.

*All quotes are from Terry, in his own words. They can be found here:

http://www.terryfox.org/TerryFox/terrys_journal_entries_and_map.html

http://www.terryfox.org/TerryFox/Quotes_from_Terry.html

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Nursing Sisters

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Nursing Sisters

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Canada’s wartime history is filled with stories of bravery, and the nursing sisters who served with the military during the North West Rebellion, the South African War, the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean War were certainly among the most courageous. While carrying out official duties, dozens died from enemy action and disease during their service. 

In the First World War (1914–1918), nursing sisters served in Canada, England, France, Belgium, Russia, and around the Mediterranean. Nicknamed "bluebirds" by soldiers grateful for a glimpse of their blue dresses and white veils, they received many honours and gained a good reputation for their courage and compassion. Fifty-three sisters lost their lives while on active duty, victims of either enemy attack or disease contracted from patients.

The nursing sisters received lectures on military law, map reading and security, instruction in gas warfare and casualty evacuation, and training in large-scale military manoeuvres during the world wars. They worked in conditions ranging from canvas tents with wooden floors to established hospitals and buildings converted for hospital use.

This Heritage Minute tells the story of Eden Pringle and Eleanor Thompson, two of the nearly 3,000 nursing sisters who served during the First World War. Pringle and Thompson were on duty at Number Three Canadian Stationary Hospital (No. 3 CSH) at Doullens (near Amiens in France), when it was attacked at 12:15 a.m. on May 30, 1918. A single German aircraft first dropped a flare to light its target, following up with several bombs. One hit the main building, just over the sergeant’s quarters on the third floor. The central structure collapsed and burst into flames, incinerating the officers’ ward on the second floor and the operating theatre on the ground floor, where Pringle was on duty. Pringle, 24, was a graduate of the Vancouver General Hospital, and enlisted on May 12, 1917. She was initially posted to the Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Buxton, England in June 1917, and then at Doullens in July of that year. The operating theatre was completely wiped out in the bombing, and it was reported that the people working in the theatre “were not recognisable.” Pringle was reportedly the youngest nursing sister to die during the First World War.

Eleanor Jean Thompson, 30, from Valleyfield, Québec, was one of two nurses in the resuscitation ward immediately adjoining the operating theatre. She had enlisted in Montreal on February 1, 1916 and had reported to the No. 3 CSH a mere three weeks before the bombing. During the attack, she was knocked over by a heavy beam and struck across her legs, but she eventually managed to remove herself from the debris. With the help of another nurse, Meta Hodge, Thompson put out fires lit by overturned coal oil heaters and organized the evacuation of patients from the room, some having to slide down the mounds of debris as the stairway had gone. Thompson and Hodge remained in the ward until all the patients had been removed.

In all, 32 staff and patients were killed, and 17 were wounded.

Though Thompson had no any visible injuries, she began to suffer from persistent severe headaches and insomnia almost immediately. She remained in active service for several months before she was finally admitted to a hospital in March of 1919, where she was diagnosed with ‘nervous disability,’ or what would be called post-traumatic stress disorder today. Following a recommendation by the army’s Medical Board that she be “discharge(d) to civil life” given her fragile condition, Eleanor returned to Canada in 1919. She died in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec in 1964, at the age of 75.

Canadian Military officials, impressed by the nursing sisters’ courageous action under enemy fire, submitted recommendations for awarding the nursing sisters the Military Cross, a reward traditionally reserved for junior officers. It was felt that the nursing sisters’ achievements were on par with those of their male colleagues and Canada insisted that they be recognized accordingly. However, the British authorities disagreed. They concluded that, given a nursing sister’s relative rank on the field, she should only be eligible for the Military Medal, the equivalent of the Royal Red Cross, awarded to a nurse for services to her profession. In a stubborn refusal to move beyond established gender norms despite an increased female presence so near to the front line, the British authorities’ decision prevailed.

In 1919, Eleanor Thompson was one of eight Canadian nursing sisters awarded the Military Medal for “gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid.” Although this was not the distinction the Canadian officials had hoped for, this was still an exceptional recognition that underscored the changing role of women on the battlefield.

CAST
  • Eden Lyal Pringle – Siobhan Williams
  • Eleanor Jean Thompson – Myla Southward
  • Narrator – Molly Parker

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Wop May

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Wop May

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A hero is someone who is willing to put himself on the line to help others. Heroes are often ordinary people who make extraordinary decisions in times of crisis.

 

Maurice Ruddick, one of the few black men employed at the Springhill mine in Nova Scotia, saved the lives of six other miners when they became trapped.

 

Today's comic books owe a great deal to the “man of steel” we know as Superman. The first great superhero, created by Toronto-born Joe Shuster and his high school buddy Jerry Siegel, became the first comic book best-seller, creating generations of imitators and spawning an entire industry.

 

These Minutes recognize some of Canada's heroes.

 

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The Polio Scare

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The Polio Scare

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A hero is someone who is willing to put himself on the line to help others. Heroes are often ordinary people who make extraordinary decisions in times of crisis.

 

Maurice Ruddick, one of the few black men employed at the Springhill mine in Nova Scotia, saved the lives of six other miners when they became trapped.

 

Today's comic books owe a great deal to the “man of steel” we know as Superman. The first great superhero, created by Toronto-born Joe Shuster and his high school buddy Jerry Siegel, became the first comic book best-seller, creating generations of imitators and spawning an entire industry.

 

These Minutes recognize some of Canada's heroes.

 

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Superman

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Superman

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A part of our heritage...

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A hero is someone who is willing to put himself on the line to help others. Heroes are often ordinary people who make extraordinary decisions in times of crisis.

 

Maurice Ruddick, one of the few black men employed at the Springhill mine in Nova Scotia, saved the lives of six other miners when they became trapped.

 

Today's comic books owe a great deal to the “man of steel” we know as Superman. The first great superhero, created by Toronto-born Joe Shuster and his high school buddy Jerry Siegel, became the first comic book best-seller, creating generations of imitators and spawning an entire industry.

 

These Minutes recognize some of Canada's heroes.

 

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Smallpox

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Smallpox

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A hero is someone who is willing to put himself on the line to help others. Heroes are often ordinary people who make extraordinary decisions in times of crisis.

 

Maurice Ruddick, one of the few black men employed at the Springhill mine in Nova Scotia, saved the lives of six other miners when they became trapped.

 

Today's comic books owe a great deal to the “man of steel” we know as Superman. The first great superhero, created by Toronto-born Joe Shuster and his high school buddy Jerry Siegel, became the first comic book best-seller, creating generations of imitators and spawning an entire industry.

 

These Minutes recognize some of Canada's heroes.

 

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Maurice Ruddick

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Maurice Ruddick

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A part of our heritage...

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A hero is someone who is willing to put himself on the line to help others. Heroes are often ordinary people who make extraordinary decisions in times of crisis.

 

Maurice Ruddick, one of the few black men employed at the Springhill mine in Nova Scotia, saved the lives of six other miners when they became trapped.

 

Today's comic books owe a great deal to the “man of steel” we know as Superman. The first great superhero, created by Toronto-born Joe Shuster and his high school buddy Jerry Siegel, became the first comic book best-seller, creating generations of imitators and spawning an entire industry.

 

These Minutes recognize some of Canada's heroes.

 

Dextraze in the Congo

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Dextraze in the Congo

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Canada has a long history of international peacekeeping and has been part of every major peacekeeping operation. Although the UN has been involved in missions since 1948, Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson popularized the term "peacekeeping" in the late 1950s. Pearson's efforts won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.

In 1956, when Israel, France and the United Kingdom were trying to stop Egypt from taking control of the Suez Canal, Pearson proposed a peacekeeping force to be deployed to the region. This was the first major initiative by the UN whose goal was to stabilize the situation and to permit the withdrawal of the attackers. After Suez, Canadians came to feel that peacekeeping was their métier.

In July 1960, a newly independent Congo erupted in violence and quickly collapsed into anarchy. The UN sent 1894 men, its largest deployment ever to the region. Brigadier-General Jacques Dextraze arrived in 1963 as second-in-command of the mission. Known as "Jadex" or "Mad Jimmy," Dextraze was a daring leader. Undertaking a number of risky rescues, he once landed his personal helicopter to pick up four missionaries and was forced to keep the rebels at bay with his machine gun until escape was possible. General Dextraze went on to become the Chief of Defense Staff in Canada.

Canada continues its commitment to keeping peace. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1988 and the subsequent ethnic conflicts, there have been no fewer than 36 UN operations to bring some form of military peace as well as humanitarian aid to the area. Canadian peacekeepers made up roughly 10% of the total force. In the last decade, Canadians peacekeepers have served in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Angola, the Balkans, Cambodia, El Salvador, Iraq, Kuwait, the Western Sahara, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Georgia, Liberia, the Netherlands, Rwanda, Uganda, Somalia, Chad, Guatemala, Tadjikistan, Zaire, Croatia, Bosnia, Haiti, and Ethiopia and Eritrea.

CAST
  • Jacques Dextraze – Graham Harley
  • Reverend Carmine – Bernard Browne
  • Kalanata – Arnold Pinnock

Lucille Teasdale

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Lucille Teasdale

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Humanitarian and visionary Lucille Teasdale was one of Canada's first female surgeons. She went to Gulu, Uganda to practice medicine and to help those in need. By the time of her death in 1996, she received numerous international honours including the Order of Québec and the Order of Canada. Lucille Teasdale's extraordinary selflessness and humanitarian determination make her one of Canada's most remarkable women.

Lucille Teasdale was born in the East End of Montréal in 1929. She grew up in a working class, Roman Catholic community. She was interested in medicine and was determined to get into medical school.

She graduated from the University of Montréal medical school at age 26, and interned at St. Justine-Hospital. While there she met Piero Corti, her future husband. She really wanted to become a surgeon, but neither Canada nor the United States would admit her because she was a woman. In 1960, she was accepted by two hospitals in France to specialize in pediatric surgery.

Later, Piero Corti convinced her to help him set up a hospital in Gulu, Uganda. They arrived there in 1961 and began their work at St Mary's-Lacor Hospital. They transformed a desolate, 40-bed building into a 500-bed hospital treating over 150,000 patients annually.

She personally treated over 13,000 patients throughout her career at St Mary's-Lacor Hospital. She continued practicing medicine throughout Uganda's turbulent dictatorships, civil war, and AIDS epidemic. Lucille operated on hundreds of soldiers during the civil war.

She contracted HIV in 1985 while operating on a soldier and was told that she had only two years left to live. Unconvinced, she was more determined than ever and continued performing surgery until 1993. While she was concerned about transmitting the disease during operations, "...in the end, we decided that the risk was very low. And I was the only surgeon able to conduct the operations so if I didn't do it, the patient would die."

CAST
  • Teasdale – Marina Orsini
  • Narrator – Michelle-Barbara

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