Racial Segregation in Canadian Legal History: Viola Desmond's Challenge, Nova Scotia, 1946

Dalhousie Law Journal 17:2 (Fall 1994) 299-362.

64 Pages Posted: 20 May 2013 Last revised: 23 Jun 2013

Constance Backhouse

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: 1994

Abstract

This article recounts the arrest and trial of Viola Desmond, who in 1946 violated a rule imposing racial segregation on Blacks. It goes on to describe Desmond's unsuccessful attempt to have that conviction overturned in the Supreme Court of Nova scotia, the first known challenge brought by a Black woman in Canada against a racial segregation law. Through the use interviews and analysis of archival material, the author situates this legal proceeding within the context both of the history of racism in Canada and of legal attempts to combat it.

Keywords: Viola, Desmond, 1946, racial, racist, race, racism, segregation, discrimination, African, Black, Nova Scotia, Canada, conviction, Canadian, law, legal, history, biography, historical, biographical, policy, discriminatory, archive, Backhouse

Suggested Citation

Backhouse, Constance, Racial Segregation in Canadian Legal History: Viola Desmond's Challenge, Nova Scotia, 1946 (1994). Dalhousie Law Journal 17:2 (Fall 1994) 299-362. . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2263400

Constance Backhouse (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

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