Velma Demerson will appear as a witness at Harry Kopyto’s good character hearing next Monday April 29, 2013 at the Museum Room, Osgoode Hall at 9:30 a.m. The public is strongly urged to attend.
Velma will testify about her decades-long struggle to clear her name after being incarcerated in the late 1930s for being morally “incorrigible”. Her crime? Marrying a Chinese man! Half a century later, she initiated efforts to clear her name and to obtain compensation and an apology. However, it was not until she met Harry Kopyto in the early 2000s that her efforts started bearing fruit.
As a result of Harry’s legal work and organizing skills, a committee, Friends of Velma, was formed, and her struggle for justice won broad public support. The support came from the labour movement, from the feminist and academic communities, from the news media, from the Chinese community and from the public at large. Eventually, the campaign culminated in an endorsement from Ontario’s major political parties, an apology from the Premier of Ontario, a press conference attended by more than twenty media representatives and the successful settlement of a lawsuit against the Ontario government notwithstanding a delay of over 60 years in initiating the claim.
Velma will testify about her own inspiring successful struggle for justice documented in a highly praised book she wrote, “Incorrigible”, and Harry’s vital assistance after being scorned by others whose help she sought.
Velma, who is 92 years old, is being called as a witness out of turn as she is leaving Toronto the following day to retire in Vancouver. You are encouraged to attend the hearing next Monday to show your support.