Viola Desmond will be the first Canadian woman to be celebrated on the face of her country’s currency.
Desmond’s face will be on the front of the $10 bill when the next series goes into circulation in 2018, Finance Minister Bill Morneau told a news conference Thursday at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.
Often described as Canada’s Rosa Parks for her 1946 decision to sit in a whites-only section of a New Glasgow movie theatre, Desmond was describes by Morneau as representing “courage, strength and determination—qualities we should all aspire to every day.”
New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks said, “Viola Desmond was a pioneering entrepreneur, a human rights activists and an educator who epitomized courage, integrity and strength, “ says New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks. “To have her recognized on a bank note honours her legacy and the stand she took. It also helps us to continue to move forward as communities and as Canadians in achieving equality and dignity for all. This is an historic day for our nation.”
Desmond was a businesswoman who was arrested when she resisted segregation in a New Glasgow movie theatre in 1946. She was wrongfully jailed and fined. In 2010, the province granted her an official apology and free pardon.
The first Heritage Day in Nova Scotia, February 16, 2015, honoured Desmond as a civil rights figure and a pioneering entrepreneur, by highlighting her incredible life story and historic court case.
“This is fantastic news, but it’s more importantly a great moment for women and African Nova Scotia communities,” said Tony Ince, minister of Communities Culture and Heritage. “Many people who didn’t know Viola Desmond, will now know her story and hopefully be inspired by her legacy.”
Desmond was chosen out of more than 26,000 submissions, and was short-listed among four other historic women, including Pauline Johnson, Elizabeth MacGill, Fanny Rosenfeld and Idola Saint-Jean.