Woman Who Stood Up to Racism Graces Canada's First Vertical Bank Note

Toby Graves
March 10, 2018

Desmond is often described as Canada's Rosa Parks, even though Desmond's act of defiance happened nine years before Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus.

"It's handsome. Look at her", she said as she examined the bill in the video.

And on Thursday, the late activist was honored during the rollout of a new $10 bill that features her image.

The new bill is purple in hue and will also be the first banknote in Canada to have a vertical versus a horizontal design.

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

Born in 1914, Desmond rose to prominence as an entrepreneur, selling her own line of hair and skin products at a time when few local beauty schools accepted black students.

He says she stood up for what she believed in and helped make Canada a better place.

On Nov. 8, 1946, Desmond went to see a movie at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow while her auto was getting fixed. To pass the time, Desmond, a hairdresser and business owner, chose to take in a movie.

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. "There was no movement behind her, she was ahead of the times". Desmond was dragged out of the theatre and arrested, ultimately spending 12 hours in jail. Desmond, a beautician and entrepreneur, selling her own line of cosmetics, heading to Sydney, Nova Scotia when her vehicle broke down.

In 2010, the government of Nova Scotia issued an apology to Desmond, for prosecuting her and acknowledged her courage in resisting racial discrimination. Desmond, a beautician and entrepreneur from north end Halifax who sold her own line of cosmetics, was headed to Sydney, N.S., when her auto broke down.

"You just can't spend it between now and the end of the year", he told her. "Our family will go down in history - in history, imagine that".

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