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Edmonton Grads

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Edmonton Grads

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They would go on to become the most successful team in Canadian sports history.

Archival photos courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

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Kenojuak Ashevak

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Kenojuak Ashevak

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More about Kenojuak Ashevak

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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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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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Agnes MacPhail

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Agnes MacPhail

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Whether it was the midwives of the early 19th Century, or the young rural teachers who taught in one-room schools in isolated communities across Canada, or the outspoken leaders who led the fight to gain the vote for women; strong women have helped shape our history.

“Never was a country better adapted to produce a great race of women than this Canada of ours, nor a race of women better adapted to make a great country,” stated Emily Murphy, Canada’s first female magistrate. Murphy ensured that women won their legal rights in the famous Persons Case.

Most Canadians recognize the name Laura Secord, but do they know the story of her heroic trek that saved the British and Canadian forces during the War of 1812?

In the 1870s women were not allowed to practice medicine. Jennie Trout struggled for inclusion and her success opened the door for the many Canadian women doctors who followed.

These Minutes celebrate some of the women who helped build Canada.

Susanna Moodie

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Susanna Moodie

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Artists illuminate the spirit of our nation, whether they are painters, musicians, writers, dancers, actors, or even the philosophers who explain the effects of the arts on our lives.

 

“Their works call to my very soul,” Emily Carr wrote when she first met the painters of the Group of Seven. “They are big and courageous. I know they are building an art worthy of our great country, and I want to have my share, to put in a little spoke for the West, one woman holding up my end.” Emily Carr certainly held up her end. Her magnificent paintings express the mood, the mystery and the soul of the West Coast.

 

Thirty years after the Group of Seven produced their portraits of Canada, French-speaking Montréalers began to seek an artistic language to convey the complex reality of their changing society. Under the leadership of painter Paul-Émile Borduas, this group of artists laid the foundations for a social and artistic revolution.

 

During the hard times of the Great Depression, a young woman from the Gaspé, known simply as La Bolduc, laid the foundations of the Québec chanson.

 

These Minutes illustrate Canada's artistic spirit.

 

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Rural Teacher

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Rural Teacher

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Whether it was the midwives of the early 19th Century, or the young rural teachers who taught in one-room schools in isolated communities across Canada, or the outspoken leaders who led the fight to gain the vote for women; strong women have helped shape our history.

 

“Never was a country better adapted to produce a great race of women than this Canada of ours, nor a race of women better adapted to make a great country,” stated Emily Murphy, Canada's first female magistrate. Murphy ensured that women won their legal rights in the famous Persons Case.

 

Most Canadians recognize the name Laura Secord, but do they know the story of her heroic trek that saved the British and Canadian forces during the War of 1812?

 

In the 1870s women were not allowed to practice medicine. Jennie Trout struggled for inclusion and her success opened the door for the many Canadian women doctors who followed.

 

These Minutes celebrate some of the women who helped build Canada.

 

Nellie McClung

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Nellie McClung

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Whether it was the midwives of the early 19th Century, or the young rural teachers who taught in one-room schools in isolated communities across Canada, or the outspoken leaders who led the fight to gain the vote for women; strong women have helped shape our history.

 

“Never was a country better adapted to produce a great race of women than this Canada of ours, nor a race of women better adapted to make a great country,” stated Emily Murphy, Canada's first female magistrate. Murphy ensured that women won their legal rights in the famous Persons Case.

 

Most Canadians recognize the name Laura Secord, but do they know the story of her heroic trek that saved the British and Canadian forces during the War of 1812?

 

In the 1870s women were not allowed to practice medicine. Jennie Trout struggled for inclusion and her success opened the door for the many Canadian women doctors who followed.

 

These Minutes celebrate some of the women who helped build Canada.

 

Mona Parsons

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Mona Parsons

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Canada is internationally recognized for its role as a peacekeeping nation. But Canadian soldiers have seen their share of battle and their heroism is not forgotten.

 

Around the world, the tragedy of war is often remembered through a beautiful and haunting poem, written to commemorate those who died in World War I. John McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields” following his experiences in the trench warfare around Ypres, Belgium.

 

It was Canada that proposed a UN Peacekeeping Force in 1956. When he was a Brigadier-General, Jacques Dextraze, one of Canada's most distinguished peacekeeping commanders, led missions to rescue NGO personnel in the Congo.

 

Sergeant-Major John Osborn and Andrew Mynarski both died while valiantly trying to help others. Sergeant-Major Osborn protected his company by throwing himself on a live grenade. And Andrew Mynarski attempted to save his comrade after their Lancaster Bomber was hit by enemy fire. They were posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for their heroic acts.

 

Mona Parsons from Wolfville, Nova Scotia, was the only Canadian female civilian to be imprisoned by the Germans during World War II. She and her Dutch husband were convicted for attempting to repatriate downed Allied airmen.

 

These Minutes pay homage to Canada's military history.

 

Midwife

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Midwife

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Whether it was the midwives of the early 19th Century, or the young rural teachers who taught in one-room schools in isolated communities across Canada, or the outspoken leaders who led the fight to gain the vote for women; strong women have helped shape our history.

 

“Never was a country better adapted to produce a great race of women than this Canada of ours, nor a race of women better adapted to make a great country,” stated Emily Murphy, Canada's first female magistrate. Murphy ensured that women won their legal rights in the famous Persons Case.

 

Most Canadians recognize the name Laura Secord, but do they know the story of her heroic trek that saved the British and Canadian forces during the War of 1812?

 

In the 1870s women were not allowed to practice medicine. Jennie Trout struggled for inclusion and her success opened the door for the many Canadian women doctors who followed.

 

These Minutes celebrate some of the women who helped build Canada.

 

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