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Canada’s New Ten Dollar Bill Features Female Civil Rights Activist, Viola Desmond

On International Women’s Day 2018, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Govenor Stephen Poloz unveiled Canada’s newest ten dollar bill. Why is this so special? Because of the incredible woman featured on the bill: Viola Desmond

Like many others, I had never heard Desmond’s story before the unveiling of the new bill, and I feel grateful to have now learned it. On November 8th, 1946, Desmond took a stand when she refused to leave the whites-only movie theatre in Nova Scotia. In response, Desmond was dragged from the theatre by police, thrown in jail for 12 hours, and fined. Her act of civil disobedience played a pivotal role in Canada’s Civil Rights Movement. 

For nearly half a century, however, Desmond’s story went largely untold. While most Canadians–and the rest of the world–know Rosa Park’s name for her refusal to give up her seat at the front of the bus, very few know Desmond’s. This is another reason why the new bill is so important: it will teach Canadian’s about this heroic woman and remind them of her every time they use the bill. 

Today, Desmond is receiving the recognition she deserves. In recent years, she has been featured on the stamp, a Halifax harbour ferry. There are also plans to name a park in Toronto and streets in Montreal and Halifax after her. That said, it still took Nova Scotia 63 years to issue Desmond a posthumous pardon and apology (Desmond died in 1965). 

Desmond’s story also shines light on Canada’s history of segregation and slavery, which many Canadian’s know little about. Indeed, most Canadian’s could tell you more about American civil rights than Canadian. We are often ignorant to the fact that we too had an ugly past full of discrimination and inhumane treatment. 

Desmond will be the first black person and non-royal woman on a regularly circulating Canadian dollar. I am extremely proud of the new bill and cannot wait to see it in person. 

 

Source: https://globalnews.ca/news/4070025/10-bill-featuring-canadian-civil-righ…

Samantha is a third year UBC student majoring in Political Science. Samantha loves any kind of tea, drawing, reading, and traveling to new places. Her favourite thing to do is play with animals and write stories. One day, she hopes to have traveled to every continent.
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