Who was Viola Desmond, and why is she important in Canadian history?
Can you think of a time when you or someone you know stood up for what they believed was right, just like Viola Desmond did?
How do you think it feels when someone is treated unfairly because of their skin color? What can we do to make sure everyone is treated with kindness and respect?
If you were to make a poster about Viola Desmond, what important things would you include on it to help others learn about her?
Imagine you could meet Viola Desmond. What questions would you like to ask her about her life and her actions?
SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES/PROJECTS FOR GRADES 1 - 3
Storytime with Viola Desmond: Read a children's book about Viola Desmond to the students, such as "Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged" by Jody Nyasha Warner. After reading, have a discussion with the students about what they learned from the story.
Role Play: Organize a simple role-playing activity where students can take turns pretending to be Viola Desmond, making a stand for fairness. This helps them understand the concept of fairness and standing up for what is right.
Coloring and Art Project: Provide coloring pages or art supplies related to Viola Desmond's life and actions. Encourage students to create their own drawings or coloring sheets about her story. You can also discuss their artwork afterward.
Create a Timeline: Help students create a timeline of Viola Desmond's life and accomplishments. Use simple visuals and key events in her life to make it easy for young learners to understand her journey.
Community Discussion: Have a discussion about fairness and equal treatment in the classroom and community. Encourage students to share their thoughts on how they can make sure everyone is treated with kindness and respect, just like Viola Desmond wanted.
QUESTIONS FOR GRADES 5-8
How does Viola Desmond's struggle against racial discrimination in the 1940s relate to current discussions about racism and discrimination in Canada and around the world? What progress has been made, and what challenges still exist today?
In what ways can individuals, especially young people like yourselves, contribute to ongoing efforts for social justice and equality, inspired by the actions of Viola Desmond? What actions can you take in your school or community to promote fairness and inclusivity?
Viola Desmond's story is one of resilience and determination. How can her example inspire you to persevere in the face of challenges or injustice in your own life?
Viola Desmond's case was instrumental in challenging the legal system's discrimination. Are there current issues or laws in Canada that you believe need to be reexamined for fairness and equality? What steps can be taken to address these concerns?
Viola Desmond's image has appeared on the Canadian ten-dollar bill, celebrating her contributions to civil rights. In your opinion, which other historical figures or contemporary individuals should be recognized on currency or through public monuments for their contributions to social justice in Canada, and why?
SUGGESTED PROJECTS FOR GRADES 5 - 12
Research Project: Assign students a research project on Viola Desmond's life and contributions. Have them create a presentation, poster, or written report that highlights key events in her life, the impact of her actions, and her significance in Canadian history.
Timeline of Civil Rights Movements: Ask students to create a timeline that places Viola Desmond's actions within the broader context of civil rights movements in Canada and around the world. This can help them see the interconnections of historical events.
Viola Desmond's Legacy Debate: Divide the class into two groups, one supporting the idea that Viola Desmond's actions had a significant impact on the civil rights movement, and the other arguing that her impact was limited. Encourage students to research and debate their points, fostering critical thinking and argumentation skills.
Letter Writing Campaign: Discuss how Viola Desmond's story has inspired change and social justice. Have students write letters to local or national leaders, sharing what they've learned about Viola Desmond and advocating for a cause related to social justice or equality that is important to them.
Viola Desmond Creative Expression: Encourage students to express their understanding of Viola Desmond's life and struggles through creative means. This could include writing poems, composing songs, creating artwork, or even producing short videos that capture the essence of her story and its significance.
SUGGESTED PROJECTS FOR GRADE 5 TO 12 (USING SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY)
Create a Social Media Profile: Have students imagine that Viola Desmond had a social media profile during her time. In small groups, ask them to create a fictional social media profile for her, including posts, comments, and hashtags that reflect the events and issues she encountered. This exercise can help students relate to her experiences in a modern context.
Twitter Chat Simulation: Organize a simulated Twitter chat or discussion on a specific platform (e.g., a classroom discussion board). Students take on the roles of different historical figures, including Viola Desmond, and engage in a discussion about civil rights, segregation, and equality. This encourages them to think critically about the issues and express their thoughts in a concise manner.
Digital Storytelling: Ask students to create a digital storytelling project about Viola Desmond's life and contributions. They can use multimedia tools, such as video editing software or presentation software, to compile images, video clips, and text to tell her story. Share these digital stories with the class.
Social Media Campaign: Have students design a social media awareness campaign about Viola Desmond's legacy and the importance of fighting for social justice. This could include creating social media graphics, hashtags, and posts for platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. Encourage them to share their campaigns online and discuss their impact.
Podcast Interview: Encourage students to research and write scripts for a podcast interview with Viola Desmond. They can record these interviews using technology like recording software and then present them to the class. This activity combines research, technology skills, and storytelling.