The Debut of Viola Desmond’s $10 Bill
Viola Desmond, Halifax, Nova Scotia, circa 1940; Winnipeg Free Press
The Black activist joins a select group of women to grace a Canadian banknote. The Bank of Canada revealed the design this morning at a ceremony in Halifax to mark International Women’s Day.
In his opening remarks, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said about the decision to choose a woman for the new note, “The minister of finance and I agreed, from the beginning, that it was long past time for a banknote to feature an iconic Canadian women. That’s been a goal of mine since I became governor.”
Poloz, along with Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, joined Desmond’s sister Wanda Robson for the unveiling. The new $10 bill, with a unique horizontal design, features a portrait of Viola Desmond on the front and a depiction of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on the back.
Minister Morneau told the audience that never before such an event had he and Poloz “decided that we needed to have a Kleenex in our pockets.”
“Viola is just one of millions of stories from women who’ve helped shape, build and influence our country. But it’s an important story because it shows that standing up for what we believe, whether it’s on the step of Parliament Hill or in a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, it can make our country and our world a better place for future generations,” Morneau went on to say.
He thanked Poiloz and the Bank of Canada team who developed the new note, and gave special recognition to Robson. “Of course it was you, Wanda, [who] brought the story. The younger sister who tells that story better than anyone.”
When asked to share her own feelings with the crowd, Robson extended gratitude to the design team, the minister and governor, saying, “I thank all them from the bottom of my heart. I’ll never ever forget this day, I can’t – it’s written in history.”