MONTREAL, March 18, 2017 - The Verdunoise, Violet Grant States is among the 20 exceptional women proclaimed "Builders of the City" by the City of Montreal this year.
Every year, since 2011, Montrealers are honoured "in recognition of their exceptional contribution to the development of the city," reminded the mayor and the executive committee, adding that, on the occasion of Montreal's 375th anniversary, the City wished to pay tribute to 20 women Montrealers from all the boroughs and to a great Montrealer from the Aboriginal Peoples by creating the "Prix Origine".
For the Verdun Borough, Ms. Violet Grant States was honoured as the "first black woman to be accepted in a major orchestra in Canada," having worked in the community and in the school environment as a music teacher.
In 1940 she attended the first performance of the Montreal Women’s Symphony and decided to become its member. She was told that the orchestra needed a wind instrument so Violet switched her major from Piano to clarinet at the Conservatoire! She was auditioned and won a position in the 80 member all women orchestra. She remained a member of the orchestra until 1965. She was the only black woman who played at Carnegie Hall, N.Y. with this symphony. She managed to complete her musical studies at McGill while giving private lessons for over 28 years. She was assigned with a thousand music students per week in various schools, colleges and kindergartens. She served as Organist and Choir Director at Union United Church for 15 years.
Violet was enrolled in the Faith on 8 January 1961 in Verdun and served as a member of Verdun Spiritual Assembly since that time, serving for many years as it’s secretary. She is the first woman believer in her race in Montreal.
For her lifetime involvement as a community activist, Violet was named ‘Grande Verdunoise’ and Honorary Citizen of Verdun. She was equally involved in projects such of honouring early Black railroad workers and the official recognition of a slave cemetery in St-Armand, Quebec. She also set up banking funds with Caisse Populaire Desjardins for all the students of Verdun Elementary School, which she has helped to manage for over 20 years, effectively teaching children to care for their money.


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