Tribute to a tee


Inspired by the new $10 bill featuring the image of Viola Desmond, Cedric and Syna Smiley have paid tribute to the Nova Scotian woman with their own line of T-shirts.

Showing off not only the history and the significance of Desmond and her courage to stand up to authority, Cedric and his wife created a T-shirt with a pocket in the front to show off the new Canadian currency and highlight African Heritage Month.

“I guess the idea just came to me with the $10 bill being released,” said Cedric. Originally from Phoenix, Ariz., Cedric had not heard of Desmond before coming to Nova Scotia and was amazed when he heard her story and the inspiration that it provided.

“It was enlightening and exciting to me so I thought it would be enlightening and exciting to others,” he said. For Syna, being from Nova Scotia she felt that Desmond, the story and the announcement to honour the woman on Canadian currency, instilled a sense of pride in the African Nova Scotian community all across the province.

“She’s such an important part of black history we thought it would be a great way to show some awareness,” she added.

During the African Heritage Month celebrations at Glasgow Square at the beginning of the month, the couple travelled from Antigonish to sell their shirts at the ceremony. Not only do some of the shirts include the $10 bill in a pouch but others echoed this year’s theme for the month by including a picture of the world and saying “Not Just Black History, World History.”

The couple has had a lot of positive feedback from community members about the shirts and the message they send about the culture and heritage that Nova Scotia holds.

So far, the entrepreneurs have been doing well with their garments and have even been given the green light to have the shirts available at the Halifax Stanfield Airport for the month of March. There are also some shirts at New Glasgow Town hall for display. Those interested in purchasing them can also contact

“The message of unification, the message of hope and the message of how far Viola had to go … it shows how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go,” said Syna.

Cedric Smiley spoke at the New Glasgow African Heritage Month celebration at the beginning of February this year. (submitted)