Big news! The Viola Desmond $10 bill will enter circulation next week! Along with featuring the first non-royal woman and black person on a regularly circulating Canadian banknote, the bill also displays a map of the historic Halifax north end.
On March 8 of 2018, we Canadians got our first view of the new ten dollar bill that will be gracing our wallets in the years to come. There are quite a few exciting changes to this new bill. First and foremost, the face has changed! Replacing the visage of our first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, Viola Desmond’s portrait will now hold the place. In doing so, Desmond will be the first black person, and first non-royal woman, to feature on a regularly circulating Canadian banknote issued by the Bank of Canada.
Who is Viola Desmond?
Desmond came to fame as Canada’s Rosa Parks, arrested in 1946 for refusing to leave the “whites only” section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. The publicity that subsequently surrounded her case is largely accredited for giving birth to the Canadian civil rights movement and is one of the major factors in the ending of legal segregation in Nova Scotia, which occurred in 1954.
What else is new with the $10 bill?
There are several other features to the bill that mirror Desmond’s struggle for the equal rights of black people in her province. On the reverse side, the exterior of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba is depicted. In addition to this, the bill features an excerpt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in French and English, as well as an eagle’s feather, which represents the continued struggle for the recognition of the rights of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. As such, the bill can very clearly be seen as an initiative to inspire and to teach Canadians about the ongoing struggle for human rights in Canada.
There is one more feature to the new ten dollar bill that is certainly of interest; it is the very first vertically-oriented bank note to be issued in Canada. Canada is not the first country to issue such bills, joining the ranks of countries like Switzerland, Bermuda, Argentina, and Israel, among others. While the Bank of Canada states that the new orientation will differentiate the bill from other Canadian banknotes, as well as providing more space for Desmond’s portrait, other benefits have been put forward as well. Some claim that the new orientation is more intuitive as most people tend to hold their wallets vertically when looking for bills anyway.
Diversity and the Way Forward
Whatever your thoughts, there is no question that the new ten dollar banknote has caused a lot of excitement. As far as we go, Continental believes that while it is an important thing to reflect the story of our past on our bills, it is essential that the whole story is told. We are therefore very happy to see that more of our nation’s incredible diversity is going to be displayed! The new notes will begin to enter circulation later in the year.
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