New $10 bill unveiled, featuring civil rights icon Viola Desmond

Toby Graves
March 10, 2018

On Thursday, the Bank of Canada unveiled a new bank note featuring civil rights icon Viola Desmond - and visitors to the promotional website can find the video game by repeatedly clicking on the "Spin" button underneath a 3D image of the bill.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau officially unveiled the bill in Halifax with the assistance of Desmond's sister, Wanda Robson, who noted, "Our family will go down in history - in history, imagine that".

"I was speechless", she said describing her reaction to the bank note.

Viola Desmond's heroic acts were recognized today at the unveiling of Canada's new, vertical $10 banknote. Poloz says it was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman. He said she stood up for what she believed in and helped make the country a better place.

It's going into circulation later in this year, marking the first time a Canadian woman has been featured on a circulation bill in Canada.

The purple polymer bill is the first vertically oriented bank note issued in Canada.

According to the CBC, the bill featuring Viola Desmond also includes the images of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, and some text from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Isaac Saney, a senior instructor of black studies at Dalhousie University, said many Canadians are unaware that slavery and segregation existed here, and often know more about USA civil rights icons than those in Canada. "She's just one of many of us who have suffered".

Desmond became famous because of a business trip made her 71 years ago.

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. "It's attractive", she told an audience in Halifax. Desmond, suffering from myopia and not seen anything from the back row, sat on one of the seats for whites and refused to leave. Desmond was dragged out of the theatre and arrested, ultimately spending 12 hours in jail. She died in 1965, but received Canada's first-ever posthumous apology and pardon in 2010.

"Viola Desmond carried out a singular act of courage", Saney said.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you for that", she said on Thursday.

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