March 8 is International Women’s Day. Canada celebrates by unveiling a new $10 bill, the first to feature a Canadian woman, Viola Desmond.
Desmond (1914–1965) lived in Nova Scotia and was a successful businesswoman. In 1946 she refused to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre and was jailed and fined. Her legal battle was the first known legal challenge against racial segregation brought forth by a black woman in Canada.
The unveiling of the new Canadian $10 bill took place at the Halifax Central Library. Desmond’s sister, Wanda Robson was in attendance. Finance Minister Bill Morneau was also part of the unveiling.
“Two years ago today on International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Trudeau and I announced that the time had come for a Canadian woman to be represented on Canada’s bank notes. Since then, thanks in large part through her sister Wanda, more and more Canadians have come to know Viola Desmond’s remarkable personal story of courage and dignity,” said Minister Morneau, in a statement.
The $10 bill is also the first “vertically oriented” banknote issued in Canada.