CBU Celebrates African Heritage Month with playwright Leslie McCurdy and Social Activist Wanda Robson

In celebration of Canada’s African Heritage Month 2020, Cape Breton University’s Viola Desmond Chair in Social Justice, the Glace Bay UNIA and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education (CBVRCE), are sponsoring a four-day series of events featuring African Canadian actress and playwright, Leslie McCurdy, and writer and community activist, Wanda Robson.

Leslie McCurdy is well known in Canada for her one-woman plays, in which she depicts historically significant women of African descent. One of her plays, “Things My Fore-Sisters Saw,” was recently featured on a CBC documentary series in September 2019. In her play, McCurdy takes on the role of four Black women who influenced the development of human rights and social justice in Canada: Marie-Joseph Angelique, a slave who was arrested, tortured and hanged for allegedly starting a fire that consumed much of Old Montreal; Black Loyalist, Rose Fortune, who started her own transport business in Annapolis Royal and is considered to be Canada’s first policewoman; Mary Ann Shadd, abolitionist and first woman in Canada to publish her own newspaper and Viola Desmond, Canadian civil rights icon and pioneer Black businesswoman.

During the series of events, Wanda Robson, Viola Desmond’s sister will be speaking to school children during a morning showing of the play, as well as speaking to the public during an evening show, both to be held at the CBU Boardmore Theatre.

Wanda Robson is a well known local community educator, author, and the youngest sister of Viola Desmond. She currently lives in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, with her husband Joe. In 2004, at the age of 77, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of completing a university education when she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cape Breton University. It was through her class on social justice that she met Dr. Graham Reynolds. The two formed a special bond and through encouragement from Reynolds, Wanda started on her incredible journey that would lead to an official pardon from the Nova Scotia Government for Viola, and most recently, Viola’s portrait on the Canadian $10 bill.

In 2010, she published Sister to Courage: Stories from the World of Viola Desmond, Canada’s Rosa Parks. She has given numerous public and school presentations and has been interviewed many times by local and national media.

“We are thrilled to have both women back on the CBU campus to help celebrate African Heritage Month and to help raise awareness around social justice issues that Black Nova Scotians have endured,” says Dr. Graham Reynolds, Chairholder of the Viola Desmond Chair in Social Justice at CBU. “We are excited to have a mix of community members attend these events and learn how to move collectively forward with social justice issues and how we all play a role in that.”

Performance Times:

February 24, 2020 – 10:00 am – Students and Teachers of the Cape Breton-Victoria Region Education Centre

February 24, 2020 – 7:00 pm – Free of charge and open to the public. As part of this evening play, there will be a 6:15 pm booking signing with Wanda Robson and Graham Reynolds and a $10 bill exchange.

Where: Cape Breton University – Boardmore Theatre