Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Culture | By Wayne Carr

Canada's unveils new vertical $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond

Canada's unveils new vertical $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond

The bill features Viola Desmond, the black civil rights activist who fought against racial segregation in Nova Scotia.

Desmond's sister, 91-year-old Wanda Robson, represented the leader's legacy as the new currency was introduced to the public at the Halifax Central Library.

"It's lovely. Look at her", she said as she examined the bill in the video. "And well, I was speechless -my family would have liked that but for once in my life I was speechless", she said.

Last year, the Bank used the same trick to draw people into its messaging on the Canada 150 commemorative $10 bill.

"The Minister of Finance and I agreed it was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman".

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"It's an important story because it shows that standing up for what we believe, whether it's on the steps of Parliament Hill or in a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, can make our country and our world a better place for future generations", he said.

Canada unveiled its first-ever bank note bearing vertical images, honoring a woman who stood up against racism more than seven decades ago.

Desmond is the first black person - and the first non-royal woman - on a regularly circulating Canadian bank note.

The back side features the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, meant to shine a light on "Canada's ongoing pursuit of rights and freedoms". In addition, the law stresses the importance of its role in the civil rights movement in Canada.

"We know more about Rosa Parks than Viola Desmond", he said.

New $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond
On Nov. 8, 1946, Desmond went to see a movie at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow while her vehicle was getting fixed. Canada's Finance Minister Bill Moreau and Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz assisted Robson with the unveiling.

Because she could not see well from the balcony where black patrons were relegated to sit, she sat on the floor level reserved for whites. Desmond, suffering from myopia and not seen anything from the back row, sat on one of the seats for whites and refused to leave.

"Viola Desmond carried out a singular act of courage", said Isaac Saney, a senior instructor of black studies at Dalhousie University.

Desmond died in 1965, and the province gave her a posthumous free pardon in 2010, recognizing the injustice she and other black Nova Scotians suffered.

Looking to kill time while her auto was being repaired, she stopped by a local movie theatre. And when I say suffered, I don't mean that you just couldn't do anything anymore.

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