Civil Rights Pioneer Viola Desmond To Be Featured On Canadian $10 Bill
Meanwhile, America is still waiting for its $20 Harriet Tubman bill.
November 13, 2018 at 12:53 am
A $10 Canadian bill featuring civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond will enter circulation next week.
In 1946, Desmond was thrown out of a movie theater in Halifax, Canada, after she refused to leave a whites-only section. Her heroic actions occurred almost a decade before Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat in Alabama. Desmond spent 12 hours in jail and had to pay a fine for the incident.
She died in 1965 and was posthumously pardoned in 2010 by Mayann Francis, the province’s first African Nova Scotian lieutenant-governor, as Blavity previously reported.
Desmond will be the first Canadian woman featured on the nation’s currency. Additionally, the new note will be the first vertically oriented bill in Canadian history. The bill will also include a picture of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a passage from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a map of Halifax’s North End, a historically Black neighborhood. Finally, it will feature an eagle feather, which represents the “ongoing journey toward recognizing rights and freedoms for Indigenous Peoples in Canada."
Plans for the bill were announced in March. Desmond was chosen after the Bank of Canada requested candidates for the currency and had citizens vote on its website.
Wanda Robson, Desmond’s sister, was on hand for the unveiling of the bill eight months ago.
“It’s beyond what I ever thought. It’s beautiful,” she said at the time. “I say thank you, thank you, thank you. Our family will go down in history – in history, imagine that."
Former Halifax school board chair Irvine Carvery believes the banknote is "a historic moment" that highlights the often-ignored history of African Canadians.
"What it means is that there's recognition in terms of the struggle that we, as African Canadians have gone through for all of our years of being here," he told CP24. "That was a pinnacle event, down in New Glasgow, when she refused to give up her seat. So to put her on the bill is, for me, a recognition that those struggles were real, and they continue through to today."
Carvery also hopes the money will inspire more people to learn about Desmond's story.
“I'm hoping having Viola on the bill will prompt people to want to know what's the story behind her, because still, there's a lot of people who have no idea who she was and what she stands for," he added. "Being on the $10 bill, people might want to say, 'Who is that person? Let me do a little research.'"
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