Canada’s new $10 vertical banknote, featuring Viola Desmond’s portrait, will officially go into circulation today, just over 72 years after she was ousted from the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
The civil rights pioneer and businesswoman will become the first Canadian woman to be featured on a regularly circulating banknote, according to the Bank of Canada.
The new bill will also feature a map of Halifax’s historic north end, home to one of Canada’s oldest black communities and the location where Desmond opened her first salon.
This artistic rendering of the historic map shows the waterfront, Citadel and Gottingen Street, the thoroughfare where Viola’s Studio of Beauty Culture was located.
The Bank of Canada says the bill will also be the first vertically oriented banknote in Canada, which allows for a more prominent image of Desmond and differentiates it from the current polymer notes.
“Viola Desmond was a successful black businesswoman who was jailed, convicted and fined for defiantly refusing to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre in 1946,” says the Bank of Canada website. “Her court case was an inspiration for the pursuit of racial equality across Canada. Viola’s story is part of the permanent collection at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.”
The new note will also feature an homage to “The Record of Democracy,” the Canadian flag, Canada’s coat of arms along with our motto, a mari usque ad mare, Latin for “from sea to sea.”
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights, will also be honoured on the new note.
An eagle feather, paying homage to Canada’s First Nations peoples will be featured on the backside of the bill. As per the Bank of Canada, “The eagle is believed to fly higher and see further than any other bird, and an eagle feather symbolizes ideals such as truth, power and freedom.”
Our Rights from The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, entrenched in the Constitution of Canada in 1982, will also be enshrined on the banknote.
The country’s new $10 banknote goes into circulation today, Monday, November 19.