A Black Canadian civil rights icon was honored for her trail-blazing acts of defiance in a ceremony that reveal her image on the country’s new $10 bill.

The bill, featuring Viola Desmond, is the first vertically oriented bank note issued in Canada. It is also known as the purple polymer bill and includes a portrait of Desmond, as well as a historic map of north end Halifax and Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights.



“It was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman,” Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz told the large crowd gathered at the Halifax Central Library on International Women’s Day despite a blustery snowstorm and flickering power. “That’s been a goal of mine since I became governor.”

Poloz also acknowledged Desmond’s courage for standing up for what she believed in during her quest for justice and equality.

“It’s an important story because it shows that standing up for what we believe, whether it’s on the steps of Parliament Hill or in a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, can make our country and our world a better place for future generations,” he said.

Desmond passed away in 1965. Her sister, Wanda Robson, accepted the honor on her behalf.



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