The legacy of Viola Desmond will soon be strengthened in Pictou County – through the establishment of the new homeless shelter, Viola’s Place, and on the new Canadian $10 bill.
At their May 14 meeting, New Glasgow town council got a preview of the latter, with Monique LeBlanc of the Bank of Canada presenting the $10 bill with Desmond’s image to council.
As the note was passed around from council, to staff, to guests, LeBlanc said the decision to put Viola Desmond on the bill was the result of a public consultation in which 26,000 submissions were made, with suggestions on who to feature.
The consultation was the result of an announcement by the prime minister that the Bank of Canada was going to put the image of an important woman on the new polymer bill on International Women’s Day.
“We brought together experts… and had criteria that you had to be dead for so many years, so Celine Dion was cut. You had to be real, so Anne of Green Gables was cut,” said LeBlanc.
At the end of the process, the number was narrowed down to 461 legitimate names, and then five.
The minister of finance eventually chose Viola Desmond, LeBlanc noted, “because of her story of personal courage, and her dignity… standing up for her rights. Her story was inspiring.”
The new bank note features Desmond’s portrait vertically – a first on a Canadian bank note – as well as imagery of her home in North End Halifax, and other images that fit in with the theme of human rights and social justice – an eagle feather, the ceiling of the library of parliament and the Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg.
LeBlanc told council a release date for the new bank note has not yet been determined.