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Canada unveils new $10 bill featuring female civil-rights pioneer Viola Desmond

Canada unveils new $10 bill featuring female civil-rights pioneer Viola Desmond

On Thursday, Canada introduced its new $10 bill, showcasing Black Nova Scotian and civil rights activist Viola Desmond.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz will be unveiling the long awaited note.

It includes a portrait of Desmond, who is the first black person and the first non-royal woman, on a regularly circulating Canadian bank note.

Desmond made her mark in history on November 8, 1946 when she took on segregation in the province of Nova Scotia.

Desmond was removed from the theater, charged and fined for her act. Desmond, who was short-sighted and could not see properly from the back, sat in the floor section and refused to leave.

Born in 1914, Desmond rose to prominence as an entrepreneur, selling her own line of hair and skin products at a time when few local beauty schools accepted black students.

The CMHR is also featured prominently on the new bill and is the first-ever museum to be pictured on a Canadian banknote, according to museum officials.

The incident that would propel her into Canada's history books took place in 1946 after her vehicle broke down in New Glasgow, some 100 miles north-east of Halifax, while on a business trip.

"Is this mine?" Robson asked Morneau, holding the bill featuring her late sister's face.

The bill, which also features an eagle feather and an excerpt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was met by a standing ovation.

Viola Desmond's name may not ring bells here in the states but for our neighbors to the North, she's a prominent part of Canada's civil rights history. Yes, several countries have made it happen: Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, and the Philippines all have at least one banknote featuring a woman who has defined its history.

Desmond died in 1965 and Nova Scotia issued a posthumous apology and pardon in 2010. And when I say suffered, I don't mean that you just couldn't do anything anymore.

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