The new Bank of Canada $10 note will be the first verticle note in Canada, and feature Viola Davis, a successful business woman of colour who refused to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre in 1946. (Bank of Canada)

Island connection to launch of new $10 bill

Great nephew of Viola Desmond says bill is a ‘step in the right direction’

While he has yet to hold a copy of the $10 bill in his hand, a Comox doctor has a special connection to a new banknote being released Monday.

Doctor Sterling Desmond is the great nephew of Viola Desmond, the late Nova Scotia civil rights pioneer who was jailed in 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S.

She was chosen amongst hundreds of candidates to be featured on the new bill.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction … along with reconciliation, nothing is perfect under the sun, but it acts in some way to write some of the wrongs that were done,” said Desmond, who grew up in Winnipeg with a Caucasian mother and a black father.

He said the new bill represents a legacy of courage.

“Courage is never seen at the moment in time, but it’s seen afterward. It’s an uplifting note to younger generations to show that one person – just one – can always make a difference.

Viola – who died in 1965 – was a businesswoman and a beautician, who ran a beauty school. As many as 15 women – who had been denied admission to whites-only training schools – graduated each year from her school.

Viola’s face will adorn the front of Canada’s $10 bill. While other women have appeared on Canadian currency, the Queen is the only woman to have graced the front of a bank note.

The bill will also be the first vertically-designed note and feature several art pieces including a map of part of Halifax where Desmond’s business was located.

RELATED: New vertical $10 bill coming into circulation November 19

“Canadians can use this note with both confidence and pride,” said Bank of Canada governor Stephen S. Poloz in a statement.

Desmond noted the bill can also serve an educational purpose and open up a discussion of discrimination in Canada.

He said while he has seen design copies of the bill, he has yet to obtain a copy but hopes to sometime soon.

The bill was officially launched Monday at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

-With files from Scott Stanfield

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation asks Tofino businesses for support as emergency funding runs dry

“We need to pay for the work they do. It’s such important work.”

DFO says the five aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Canada can lead the way to save sharks from extinction, says fisheries expert

“Combined with fishing extraction numbers, sharks experience huge losses in the environment.”

Five Vancouver Island First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read