Canada will continue its streak of social progressivism under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This past week, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the treasury’s redesigned $10 banknote will feature a portrait of a black woman: Nova Scotian businesswoman, socialite and activist Viola Desmond (1914-1965).
Viola Desmond is often referred to as “Canada’s Rosa Parks.” This is supremely ironic, as Desmond’s courageous act in defiance of racial segregation in Nova Scotia took place almost a full 10 years (1946) before Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to move to the back of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama (1955).
With that fact in mind, one could actually flip the script and call Rosa Parks “America’s Viola Desmond.”
The new $10 note is expected to enter circulation in late 2018. This will mark the first time that a portrait of a Canadian woman (let alone a black woman) will be featured on a regularly circulating Bank of Canada note.
Desmond’s younger sister Wanda Robson (pictured above) was a guest of honor at the announcement of the new bank note design. The selection of Viola Desmond came after the Canadian government’s #bankNOTEable initiative, which opened up nominations to citizens across the country.
The Bank of Canada launched an open call for nominations in the spring of 2015, yielding more than 26,300 submissions from across Canada, and resulting in 461 eligible candidates. An independent committee dwindled the list down to five finalists, and the Finance Minister made the final decision to include Ms. Desmond on the bill.
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