Ontario teenager Varishini Deochand wrote to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil with a special request in the name of Viola Desmond.
Deochand, a grade 11 student from Vaughan, Ont., asked the province of Nova Scotia to symbolically reimburse court costs charged to Desmond when she was convicted in 1946.
Desmond was dragged out of New Glasgow, N.S. movie theatre for sitting in a whites-only seat. She was charged on Nov. 9, 1946 with, “attempting to defraud the provincial government based on her alleged refusal to pay a one-cent amusement tax.”
Desmond was ordered to pay court costs of $26, approximately in today’s dollars.
Deochand researched Desmond for an English assignment.
During an online ceremony she said, “I believe that one should not pay a fine for a crime they did not commit.”
“While we may not be able to travel back in time to right our wrongs, we can show that we care in the most sincerest of ways.”
The Nova Scotia government contacted Desmond’s only surviving family member, her sister Wanda Robson, and offered her the repayment.
Robson said she would accept the payment, and donate it to her alma mater, Cape Breton University, as a one-time scholarship.
The province increased the amount of the donation from $368.29 to $1,000.
Robson called Deochand courageous and said she would like to meet her.
“She sounds like the future,” Robson said. “The bright future that I know she’s going to have … and there’ll be thousands and millions behind her raising the torch of justice and freedom.”
An official cheque for $26 will be displayed at the Nova Scotia legislature next to Desmond’s pardon certificate.
On April 15, 2010 Mayann Francis, the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, issued a free pardon to Desmond to correct the injustice inflicted on her when she was convicted.
SOURCES: CBC.CA, NOVASCOTIA.CA