First Canadian woman to ever be featured on Canadian banknote announced

Dec 8 2016, 2:27 pm

Two weeks ago the list was down to five potential women.

But in case you haven’t been paying attention, let us give you a quick rundown of the timeline that’s lead to this historic moment:

  • International Women’s Day (March 8, 2016), the Bank of Canada sets out to find a suitable female candidate to make a splash across our legal tender.
  • More than 26,000 nominations are submitted in an open call, of which 461 are deemed to have met the necessary criteria.
  • A long list of 12 women is put together and released at the end of April, 2016.
  • The long list is subjected to both a formal public opinion survey and an advisory council.
  • Council brings the list down to five women.
  • The Governor of the Bank of Canada in consultation with the Minister of Finance consider the short list.
  • December 8, 2016, the Minister of Finance together with the Governor of the Bank of Canada announces which woman will be featured on the future banknote.

Okay, now that you’re all caught up, the first Canadian woman who will be featured on a Canadian banknote is Viola Desmond.

Canadian Women Banknote

Viola Desmond portrait, ca. 1940./Communications Nova Scotia

Desmond lived in Nova Scotia from 1914-1965 and is described by the Bank of Canada thusly:

Viola Desmond remains an icon of the human rights and freedoms movement in Canada. A successful Nova Scotia businesswoman, she defiantly refused to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre in 1946 and was subsequently jailed, convicted and fined. Her court case was the first known legal challenge against racial segregation brought forth by a Black woman in Canada.

You can read much more about Desmond’s incredible life here. Her portrait will appear on Canada’s new $10 note, and “through consultation with subject matter experts, the reverse side of the note will depict symbols and images that represent the broader themes of social justice and the struggle for rights and freedoms.”

The new $10 banknote is expected to arrive in late 2018.

Watch Desmond’s Heritage Minute below:

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