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Hon. Dr. Mayann E. Francis Speaking at Black History Month Gala

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Hon. Dr. Mayann E. Francis Speaking at Black History Month Gala

Hon. Dr. Mayann E. Francis (Left) and Regina Oppon Executive Director of Rehoboth Alliance (Right) // Jaryn Vecchio - Harvard Broadcasting

A well-known name from Nova Scotia is set to speak at the Black History Month Gala.

Hon. Dr. Mayann E. Francis, the only black person to be Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, will be at Friday’s event.

She is also the second black person across Canada to hold this position in any province – following Lincoln Alexander in Ontario.

Speaking on Fort McMurray Matters, Francis says she knew she had to come to Fort McMurray because the celebration is focusing on the life and legacy of Viola Desmond. Back in 2010, she granted Viola with the ‘Royal Prerogative of Mercy Free Pardon.’

“Whenever there’s a celebration of Viola Desmond and I receive an invitation, I must go because of that connection.”

Back in November 1946, Desmond was arrested at a movie theatre after she sitting in the lower level of the building which was a ‘white only section.’

“They dragged her out, threw her in jail, and she was then convicted and found guilty of defrauding the government of one penny,” added Francis.

The incident was a leading factor in the fight for equal rights across the country.

Fast forwarded to 2010, and the Pardon highlighted the fact that she was innocent.

Nowadays, Francis says Desmond deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

“Rosa Parks was in 1955, Viola Desmond was in 1946, so she’s first. To me, they followed in her footsteps, Martin Luther King, of course, is one person we all know, talk about, influenced by his speeches and his love for equality, so she’s way up there.”

The federal government will be honouring Viola this year as she will be the first woman in Canada to be on the new $10 bill.

The gala itself will be held at the Shell Place Grand Ballroom at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.


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