Earlier this year it was announced that Civil Rights activist Viola Desmond would become the new face of Canada’s $10 bill, and now the bill featuring her image is finally in circulation, the Washington Post reported.
In March 2016, the Bank of Canada shared plans to change the country’s currency for the first time by including a woman on their bank notes, the news outlet writes. Bill Morneau—Canada’s Minister of Finance—believed it was unfair that although women were an integral part of shaping Canadian history and culture, they remained underrepresented on the country’s currency. The Bank of Canada received upwards of 26,000 submissions for who should grace the $10 bill, and Desmond was selected. She is the first Black individual to have her face on a piece of Canadian currency.
Desmond was a trailblazer. She owned her own collection of hair and skin products and opened career pathways for the Black community in the beauty industry by creating a beauty school when there weren’t many others who allowed Black students to train in their schools. In 1946, Desmond’s bold and brave decision to refuse to leave a whites-only section in a movie theater sparked a movement that ultimately led to Nova Scotia’s end to legal segregation. Although Desmond passed away years after Canada made the decision to legally desegregate, her legacy will now live on through this bill. The bill includes an image of Desmond and a map of a predominately Black community in Halifax where she grew up.
“It’s unbelievable to think that my sister—a Black woman—is on the $10 bill,” Desmond’s sister Wanda Robson told the news outlet. “The queen is in good company.” She says she plans on using the bill to buy her granddaughter a book that she wrote about Desmond’s journey. There was an unveiling ceremony for the bill that took place at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.