Bloomberg/Getty Images
Paula Rogo
Mar, 11, 2018

Canada unveiled its new $10 bill this week that features one of the country's civil rights icons: Viola Desmond.

Desmond is the first black Canadian woman to appear on the country's currency. She is also the first non-Royal woman to be featured. 

Desmond refused to leave the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia movie theatre on Nov. 8, 1946 — nearly a decade before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Alabama, according to the Toronto Star. She was arrested, thrown in jail for 12 hours and fined.

It took another 63 years before she received a posthumous apology and pardon, many years after she died in 1965. 

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

Her sister, Wanda Robson who is now in her 90s, attended the unveiling ceremony Thursday led by Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.

“I was speechless,” Robson said of the note. "It’s beautiful.”

The new bill is expected to enter circulation at the end of the year.