New $10 bill features Canadian civil rights icon Viola Desmond

10 March, 2018, 01:38 | Author: Christina Harvey
  • A portrait of Viola Desmond circa 1940. The new Canadian $10 bill bears her image

A new $10 bill featuring Desmond was unveiled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.

Desmond's sister, 91-year-old Wanda Robson, represented the leader's legacy as the new currency was introduced to the public at the Halifax Central Library.

That's what makes the new $10 bill such a powerful act of acceptance, Grosse said. That was the day when she entered a theater in the town of Glasgow and chose to sit in the "White' Only" section instead of the balcony where "colored people" were relegated.

The price difference between the floor and balcony seats would later come back to haunt her; Desmond was charged with tax evasion over the single penny. "Her legal challenge galvanized the black community in Halifax's north end and paved the way for a broader understanding of the importance of human rights across our country".

In 1954, Nova Scotia ended segregation, a move partially driven by Desmond's case. "It's beyond what I ever thought".

"Is this mine?" Robson asked Morneau, holding the bill featuring her late sister's face.

Desmond New Bill 20180302

The story of Desmond by and large was unknown for half a century, but in recent years the image of this courageous woman appeared on a stamp, and her name is ferry in Halifax harbour. "And well, I was speechless -my family would have liked that but for once in my life I was speechless", she said. "She's just one of many of us who have suffered".

She was dragged out of the theatre by police, arrested, thrown in jail for 12 hours and fined.

Apart from being an activist, Desmond was also a beautician and developed her own line of beauty products, Vi's Beauty Products.

"Viola Desmond carried out a singular act of courage", Saney said. "She was ahead of the times".

Desmond died in 1965, and the province gave her a posthumous free pardon in 2010, recognizing the injustice she and other black Nova Scotians suffered.

"I say thank you, thank you, thank you", Robson continued.




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