Government of Canada Celebrates Viola Desmond, First Canadian Woman Featured on Bank Note

December 12, 2016 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Department of Finance Canada

The Government of Canada knows that our economy and country are stronger because of our diversity and because of the contributions from fearless, inspiring Canadians such as Viola Desmond—the remarkable woman who will be featured on the $10 bank note in 2018.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Celina Caesar-Chavannes, on behalf of Finance Minister Bill Morneau, highlighted today at the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia the selection of Ms. Desmond, an icon of the human rights and freedoms movement in Canada.

Ms. Desmond was selected from a short list of five iconic Canadian women by Minister Morneau following a rigorous process in which an independent Advisory Council reviewed 26,300 submissions from across Canada.

Ms. Desmond was a successful Nova Scotia businesswoman who in 1946 was jailed, convicted and fined for refusing to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Her court case was the first known legal challenge against racial segregation brought forward by a Black woman in Canada. Today, the Government of Canada celebrates this extraordinary Nova Scotian in her home province.

Viola's sister, Wanda Robson, joined the celebration to speak about her sister.


"Viola Desmond will remind current and future generations that big change can start with moments of dignity and bravery when confronted with injustice. There were hundreds of extraordinary women who could have been on the new $10 bank note, but the choice of Viola Desmond will serve to remind us that Canada is a diverse country where everyone is deserving of equality and respect, and where we recognize and celebrate those who stand up to injustice."

- Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
(speaking on behalf of Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance)

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