Canada unveils new $10 bill featuring female civil-rights pioneer Viola Desmond

Pablo Tucker
March 9, 2018

The act of courage of viola Desmond, of which the majority of Canadians knew nothing for many decades, on Thursday, March 8, was finally rewarded at a ceremony in Halifax assigns Desmond the status of prominent figures in the struggle for civil rights.

The new bill is purple in hue and will also be the first banknote in Canada to have a vertical versus a horizontal design. Now, 72 years later, Desmond has become the first Black person and the first non-royal woman to be on a regularly-circulated Canada bill.

Desmond's legacy as a pioneer in the civil rights movement stemmed from her refusal to sit on the balcony of a New Glasgow movie theatre in 1946.


Chelsea Clinton tweeted Tuesday about her story after the Bank of Canada shared a short video earlier this month of Desmond's sister, Wanda Robson, reacting emotionally to a sneak peek of the bill.

"It was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman", Poloz told the large crowd gathered at the Halifax Central Library on International Women's Day despite a blustery snowstorm and flickering power. "That has been a goal of mine since I became governor", Poloz said.

Watch the live unveiling of Canada's new $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond right here!


The bill, which also features an eagle feather and an excerpt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was met by a standing ovation. She was nominated and voted for by Canadians in 2016's Bank Note-able campaign.

Desmond was removed from the theater, charged and fined for her act. "She's just one of many of us who have suffered". Desmond, suffering from myopia and not seen anything from the back row, sat on one of the seats for whites and refused to leave. She died in 1965, but received Canada's first-ever posthumous apology and pardon in 2010.

The new bill is expected to enter circulation at the end of the year.


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