Canadian activist Viola Desmond’s sister Wanda Robson was pictured today holding the country’s first-ever vertical bank note, a $10 bill that features the late Viola’s face on it. The bill was introduced in honour of International Women’s Day, and its story reveals the progress Canada has made towards making sexism and racism a thing of the past.
Ms. Desmond is recognized as one of the leading figures in Canada’s fight against segregation. In 1946, her car broke down in Glasgow, NS, and while waiting for parts to fix it, she decided to go see a movie. After requesting a ticket for the main floor, she sat there, only to be told that she didn’t have the right ticket. When she went back to the ticket booth to complain, she was told that black people weren’t allowed on the main floor, and had to sit up in the balcony. Ms. Desmond then returned to the main floor, refusing to leave until she was finally arrested and detained overnight. She was never informed of her rights by police.
Ms. Desmond’s actions predate Rosa Parks’ protest on a segregated Alabama bus by almost 10 years.
The new $10 bill was revealed in Halifax on International Women’s Day, where one of the first bills produced was presented to Ms. Robson. More bills will be in circulation, but not before the end of this year.
Watch Ms. Robson’s reaction as she is presented with the bill: