Officials set to unveil new $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond


Canada unveiled a new $10 bill Thursday featuring black civil rights activist Viola Desmond, who replaces first Canadian prime minister and the father of Confederation Sir John A. MacDonald.

The bill, which also features an eagle feather and an excerpt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was met by a standing ovation.

"It was long past time for a banknote to feature an iconic Canadian woman", Poloz said.

Wanda Robson, the sister of Viola Desmond, smiles as the new $10 featuring her sister Viola Desmond is unveiled.

Now, 72 years later, Desmond has become the first Black person and the first non-royal woman to be on a regularly-circulated Canada bill. Subsequently, she was convicted of a tax violation for the one-cent difference in where she sat and where she was supposed to sit. In 1946, she was arrested after refusing to sit in the black-only section of a movie theater in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

She then launched the first known legal challenge against racial segregation brought forth by a black woman in Canada. There are also plans to name in her honor Park in Toronto and the streets in Montreal and Halifax.

"I'm numb with joy", Robson said at the time of her sister's pardon.

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".

For background, in November 1946, Desmond was waiting for her vehicle to be repaired after traveling to New Glasgow.

The incident happened almost a decade before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Alabama.

She remained there until police arrived.

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