TIFF is launching the Every Story fund to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in film by:
CHALLENGE the status quo by identifying and addressing barriers upheld by prevailing industry practices and attitudes, and by fostering intentional conversations and commitments to diversity and inclusion.
CELEBRATE diverse storytellers and build inclusive audiences by increasing representation in TIFF film programming, by removing barriers to public participation, and by building strong ties with community partners and their audiences.
CREATE opportunities to directly support creators who are Black, Indigenous, people of colour, 2SLGBTQ+, women, and/or from other equity-seeking groups and their projects by expanding talent development programs, alumni programming, and career development opportunities.
2023 tax receipts will be provided for donations of $10 or more. Charitable Registration No. 11930 4541 RR0001.
On November 8, 1946, 32-year-old businesswoman Viola Desmond bought a ticket to a film at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. She chose a floor seat, unaware of the cinema’s unwritten policy that they were reserved for white patrons, and that Black moviegoers were relegated to the balcony.
When an usher asked her to move, Viola refused, taking an historic stand against racial discrimination. She was physically removed from the theatre, arrested, jailed overnight, and fined $26. Charged with tax evasion of one cent, she was never informed of her right to legal representation.
Viola’s protest received little national attention at the time, and the charges against her went unpardoned in her lifetime. It wasn’t until her youngest sister, Wanda Robson, was in her seventies and advocating for this story to be known by the public that Viola’s courage was brought to light. Because of Wanda’s activism, her sister’s story inspired many people throughout Canada to take up the fight against anti-Black racism, and Viola was posthumously granted a free pardon by Nova Scotia’s Lieutenant-Governor in 2010. Eight years later, Viola was commemorated on the $10 bill, making her the first Black person and the first non-royal woman to be featured on a Canadian banknote.
To continue Viola and Wanda’s legacy, on November 8, 2022, TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey proudly announced that in recognition of Viola’s historic stand against racial segregation in a movie theatre, we would name Cinema 1, our largest cinema, and the only one with a balcony, the Viola Desmond Cinema. A $2 million fundraising campaign was launched, with the goal of supporting Black women storytellers, enhancing programming for Black audiences, eliminating access barriers, and amplifying Viola and Wanda’s stories. Two special seats were dedicated to the sisters in the front row of the cinema as a symbol of their heroism.
On Viola Desmond Day in 2023, Cameron Bailey announced that TIFF had raised $1.5 million of its $2 million goal and unveiled the new Viola Desmond Cinema commemorative plaque in the lobby. This campaign milestone was made possible by the generous contribution of presenting partner NBCUniversal and valued campaign donors.
TIFF is committed to continuing Viola and Wanda’s legacy through our $2 million fundraising campaign, an extension of TIFF’s Every Story fund that champions diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in film.
We invite you to join us in honouring Viola and Wanda, because communion in a movie theatre belongs to everyone.
For inquiries and opportunities please contact Lesley McCarroll, Director of Development.