Viola Desmond $10 Bill
Photos via Bank of Canada

Canada is marking International Women’s Day 2018 with a landmark release. A new $10 bill, the first to feature a Canadian woman – Viola Desmond – was revealed in Halifax today and will be brought into circulation later this year.

Viola Desmond was a successful black businesswoman who was jailed, convicted and fined for defiantly refusing to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre in 1946. Her court case was an inspiration for the pursuit of racial equality across Canada.


Desmond was selected for the new $10 banknote by Finance Minister Bill Morneau following an open call to Canadians to nominate an iconic Canadian woman for the next redesigned banknote.

“As we strive for equality across our economy and in every facet of our country, we hope this constant reminder of Viola’s story will help inspire a new generation of women, men, girls and boys to fight for what they believe, take their place and create a better future for themselves and all Canadians,” said Minister Morneau.

Some of the new $10 bill’s features:

  • Artistic rendering of the historic community in Halifax was where Viola Desmond lived and worked, which served as a source of invaluable support during her struggle for justice.
  • The Library of Parliament’s vaulted dome ceiling.
  • The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, where Viola’s story is part of the permanent collection.
  • An eagle feather intended to represent the ongoing journey toward recognizing rights and freedoms for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
  • The laurel leaf, an ancient symbol of justice, appears in a pattern in the bottom right corner on the back of the bank note.

For the full list of features, and an interactive look at the bill, click here.

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