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March 10, 2018

Meet the 1st Woman on Canadian Currency : Viola Desmond

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Canada's government today unveiled a new $10 bill featuring a black Civil rights activist Viola Desmond. With this, she became the 1st woman to feature on the Canadian Currency.

In 1946, Viola Desmond, a 32-year-old entrepreneur from Halifax, refused to leave the whites-only section of a movie theatre. Then she was dragged out of the theatre and jailed for 12 hours after the refusal. This incident had played a role in sparking Canada's Civil Rights Movement.

The Viola Desmond $10 bill, unveiled today at a Halifax library by her sister, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, honours the black Nova Scotian businesswoman for her civil rights activism. The bill also includes images of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and an Eagle feather, said to represent reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The purple polymer note is not only the first to feature a woman of colour, but it also the first vertically oriented bill issued in this country. The Bank of Canada said the vertical orientation allowed for a more prominent image of Desmond, and distinguishes the new $10 bill from the current roster of polymer notes.

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