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History! Canada Is Putting A Black Woman Activist On Their New $10 Bill

Viola Desmond was a key player in the country's civil rights movement.
History! Canada Is Putting A Black Woman Activist On Their New $10 Bill
Chris Roussakis/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Black woman activist will make history in Canada when her portrait appears prominently on the nation’s new bank notes, the first Canadian woman to do so.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced last week that businesswoman, mentor and civil rights icon Viola Desmond will grace the front of the $10 note in the next circulation out in 2018. Wanda Robson, Desmond’s sister, can be seen pictured above accepting the honor. 

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Often called the Canadian Rosa Parks, Desmond took an anti-segregation stand in a Nova Scotia theater by sitting in the whites-only section in 1946. She was then arrested and fined, but she helped inspire the country’s civil rights movement. 

After a lengthy process involving 461 eligible nominees, Desmond was chosen, officials said. She was selected from among a women who met the eligibility requirements of demonstrating “outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field”, and died at least 25 years ago. Desmond died in 1965.

“This spirit of activism is the force that allows us to make progress together as a society on difficult issues like racism, and sexism and inequality,” Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu said, as CBC News reported.

Although most Canadian currency features the Queen of England, Desmond will be the first Canadian woman by birth or naturalization to be portrayed on a bank note.