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MONTREAL, July 20, 2017 - "Her name was mentioned often when we created Toponym'Elles (Project : Homage to Citizens). Several citizens would have liked to call a street or a Verdun establishment in her honor, but it was unfortunately, or rather happily, not possible because she is still alive. That's why we immediately thought of her as a Builder of the City, " says the councilor and member of the executive committee, Culture, Heritage, Design, L'Espace pour la vie et status of women at Ville de Montréal, Manon Gauthier.

La Grande Verdunoise, for the Verdun Borough, Mrs. Violet Grant States was honored as the "First Black Woman to be accepted in a major orchestra in Canada", having worked in the community environment as well as in the schools as a music teacher.

Violet, the first Black Woman to have been part of a professional orchestra in North America, has never been one who is discouraged by a refusal. At a time when women had just won the right to vote and where segregation was at its height, she had an exceptional career, paving the way for future generations. That's why she was chosen as the “City Builder” to represent Verdun.

This is an honor indeed for an ex-student who was not only dismissed from McDonald Teacher College, the former faculty of music at McGill University because she was of the black race but also was dissuaded by the school's director to abandon her studies, claiming that very few parents would accept that a person of color teaches their children!

In 1940, Violet, then a young pianist attended the first concert of the Women Symphony of Montreal, an orchestra which was brought together by Conductor Ethel Stark and composed exclusively of women. It was with this orchestra that in 1947, when segregation reigned throughout the United States, Violet, the first Black Woman, to play at Carnegie Hall, a prestigious New York concert hall.

Violet adhered to the Bahá’í Faith on January 8, 1961 in Verdun and served as a member of the Verdun Spiritual Assembly, serving for many years as the Secretary of this institution. She is the first woman believer of her race in Montreal who accepted the Faith.

The borough council of Verdun on May 2 started its session with a tribute to this exceptional Verdunoise, Violet Grant States, who, on the occasion of International Women's Day, was named “Builder of the City” in 2017 by the City of Montreal.

Having a fragile health, Violet could not attend the honor ceremony at Montreal City Hall. On June 9, 2006, Jean-François Parenteau, Mayor of the Verdun Borough, and Manon Gauthier, Member of the Executive Committee, Culture, Heritage and Status of Women in the City of Montréal, Madeleine Talbot, representing the City of Montreal - Borough of Verdun and Nicole Ollivier, representative of the City of Montreal, went to the Saint-Henri Residence for Elderly to meet Violet and present her the document of Recognition on behalf of Denis Coderre, the Mayor of Montreal. (See the photo)

 

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