Canada's unveils new vertical $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond

Canada's unveils new vertical $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond

For the first time ever, a black civil rights icon is on a regularly circulating Canadian bank note - a new $10 bill featuring civil rights icon Viola Desmond has been unveiled.

Following remarks by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, her surviving sister Wanda Robson stole the show.

Desmond is the first African-American woman and the second woman in Canadian history to be placed on a currency.

For background, in November 1946, Desmond was waiting for her auto to be repaired after traveling to New Glasgow.

Isaac Saney, a senior instructor of black studies at Dalhousie University, said many Canadians are unaware that slavery and segregation existed here, and often know more about US civil rights icons than those in Canada.

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HRM also named a harbour ferry in honour of Desmond, unveiling back in June 2016.

After being forced to travel to Montreal, Atlantic City and NY for training, she returned to Halifax and opened a beauty school aimed at offering black people a local option for training.

Desmond's case is credited with playing a role in legally ending segregation in Nova Scotia in 1954.

Desmond became famous because of a business trip made her 71 years ago.

That's what makes the new $10 bill such a powerful act of acceptance, Grosse said.

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It was divided along racial lines: blacks, the audience had to sit on the balcony, while the entire first floor set aside for whites. Desmond was dragged out of the theatre and arrested, ultimately spending 12 hours in jail. Desmond, a beautician and entrepreneur from north end Halifax who sold her own line of cosmetics, was headed to Sydney, N.S., when her auto broke down.

Desmond died in 1965, and the province gave her a posthumous free pardon in 2010, recognizing the injustice she and other black Nova Scotians suffered.

"Viola Desmond carried out a singular act of courage", Saney said. "She's not leading the movement because he was ahead of his time".

"Thank you, thank you, thank you for that", she said on Thursday.

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