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)

B.C. 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 Vancouver Island 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 now practices in Comox but 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

A cup of tea can be a great hand-warmer on a cold day. (submitted)
Tea: it picks you up, it does not let you down

A good cup of tea never fails to brighten up the day

A map created by Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping, which assesses the sensitivity of Canada’s Pacific Coast to oil spills. This map highlights the Douglas Channel and other inlets and waterways around Kitimat and out to the coast. (Clear Seas map)
Douglas Channel scores ‘medium’ to high’ on oil spill sensitivity study

The study was done by a not-for-profit group specializing in sustainable marine shipping

Jody Craven of Kitimat has been announced as the BC Libertarian Party’s candidate for North Coast riding MLA on Oct. 5. (Jody Craven photo)
Jody Craven of Kitimat in the running for North Coast MLA

BC Libertarian Party has announced Craven as North Coast candidate for riding

Martin Holzbauer, independent, Nicole Halbauer, BC NDP, and Ellis Ross, BC Liberal Party, are the candidates for the Skeena riding in the upcoming provincial election. (Terrace Standard/BC NDP)
Skeena candidates talk northwest education

Online learning access and early childhood education were common themes

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for NDP candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

Six Mile Beach outside Nelson is known for its perfect sand, clear water and unique sand spit. But the drowning death of a man in July has residents asking if the dangerous spot has become too popular. Photo: David Grantham/Kootenay Drone Services
Dangerous oasis: The fatal history of a popular Kootenay Lake beach

Six Mile Beach near Nelson is known for its unique sand spit. But locals have feared it for decades

In this photo illustration, a provincial election mail-in ballot sealed in an Elections B.C. return envelope is seen before being deposited in a Canada Post mailbox, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. The final result of British Columbia’s provincial election won’t be known for at least two weeks because more than 700-thousand mail-in ballots have to be counted by hand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s snap election means 700k ballots will be counted manually, delaying results

Elections BC spokesman said employees in 87 electoral districts will count mail-in ballots one by one

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam takes part during a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. As parts of Canada face a new round of COVID-19-related restrictions, Canada’s chief public health officer is urging Canadians to continue making a “collective effort” to tackle the pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Chief public health officer calls for continued ‘collective effort’ against COVID-19

Canada continues to climb toward the 200,000 mark for COVID-19 cases

Most Read