HALIFAX - A new harbour ferry named for Canadian civil rights hero Viola Desmond will be launched in Halifax today.

Desmond was arrested in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in 1946 when she sat in the whites-only section of a movie theatre.

Historian Graham Reynolds of Cape Breton University says Desmond's story has gained more prominence over the past decade.

He says what made Desmond remarkable was that she was not an activist at the time, she was just a citizen who stood up for what she believed in.

Desmond was convicted of defrauding the province of a penny, which was the difference in price between the main seating area and the balcony.

The Nova Scotia government apologized and granted a posthumous pardon to Desmond in 2010.

Last month, Viola's sister, Wanda Desmond, donated her collection of family documents -- photographs, letters and other items -- to Cape Breton University.