Viola Desmond holding the new dollar bill with her face on it.
Who’s That on the New 10$ Bill?
Soon to be released, is a new 10$ bill in Canada. Viola Desmond’s portrait will be in circulation and it’s about time that we see the face of an African- Canadian on a dollar bill. In 1946, Viola was kicked out of a “whites-only” area in a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. She was then convicted for minor tax violation, for the penny difference between the seat she paid for and the seat she sat in. This case was very public, and a huge part of Canadian history that helped kick off the modern civil rights movement in Canada.
This vertical bill will be the first of its kind in Canada, showing more of Viola’s portrait then previous banknotes. This will also be the first time a civil rights leader and businesswoman will have her face honoured on a dollar bill. The decision to have Viola on the bill was made by an open call nomination ceremony and a public opinion survey held on the Bank of Canada’s website.
This dollar bill will also feature a map of Halifax’s historic North side, which is one of Canada’s oldest black communities and also where Viola opened her first salon. Despite the drawbacks that Viola faced being a woman of colour, she opened her own salon and beauty school; giving other woman who faced many difficulties the opportunity to better themselves.
Prominent member of Halifax’s north end and former school board chairmen, Irvine Carvey says, “That was a pinnacle event, down in New Glasgow, when she refused to give up her seat. So to put her on the bill is, for me, a recognition that those struggles were real, and they continue through to today.”
Canada has come along way and still has far to go when it comes to addressing and apologizing for the slavery that took place against African-Canadians; having Viola Desmond’s face on the new 10$ bill is a start that is gladly accepted.
Written by: Ty Thomas