HALIFAX (NEWS 1130) – For the first time ever, a black civil rights icon is on a regularly circulating Canadian bank note — a new $10 bill featuring civil rights icon Viola Desmond has been unveiled.
Speaking at a ceremony in Halifax, Desmond’s sister Wanda Robson told the crowd she was delighted to see her sister on Canadian currency.
“I said, it’s a $10 bill, she’s on the $10 bill! And well, I was speechless –my family would have liked that but for once in my life I was speechless,” she said.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz were also on hand for the unveiling. Poloz says it was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman.
“We have symbols in this country that talk to us about what we’re all about as a nation. And putting a symbol of Viola Desmond, an iconic campaigner really for human rights, for women, as far back as 1946 is so impactful not only for this generation, for future generations.”
He says she stood up for what she believed in and helped make Canada a better place.
In 1946, Desmond refused to leave the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia movie theatre. She is also the first non-royal woman on a regularly circulating Canadian bank note.
The new purple polymer bill is the first vertically oriented bank note issued in Canada. The bill also features a historic map of north end Halifax on one side, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on the other.