• Kali Regenvanu

The Importance of Canada's New $10 Bill

Canada will be debuting its new ten-dollar bill in 2018 with the face of none other than Nova Scotia’s own Viola Desmond, a civil rights activist of the 20th century. This is not only a big day for the women of Canada, but also for the African-Canadian population of our country.

Viola Desmond was an African-Canadian businesswoman born in 1914 to a very segregated society. She was a business owner and beautician, and noticed from very early on there weren’t many beauty options catering to the African-Canadian woman, so she began to provide this service. She wasn’t able to train as a beautician in Halifax because of her skin colour, so she had to travel to New York to complete her training. When she returned, she opened her own hair salon and later set up the Desmond School of Beauty Culture. This opened up opportunities for the African-Canadian population in Halifax to have access to beauty training. This may seem like a small step, but it made a huge difference and paved the way for activism to continue in Nova Scotia.

At the age of 32, Viola Desmond went to see a movie at the Roseland theatre and sat in the main section of the theatre. At the time, the main section of the theatre was ‘whites only’, but Viola sat there regardless. She was told to move and refused, which resulted in her being removed from the theatre and arrested by police.

Upon arrest, she fought for her rights as an African-Canadian woman and brought this issue to lawyers. Desmond fought for what she saw as an injustice, and this was huge at the time. She created a spark that inspired so many other minorities to stand up for their rights. She is often referred to as ‘Canada’s Rosa Parks’, and for good reason. Desmond deserves all the credit she is currently receiving and more. Viola Desmond will be the first Canadian woman to appear on a Canadian bill, and I couldn’t be happier to see this happen. She is a worthy candidate for the ten-dollar bill, and even in death is a powerful figure and inspiration not only to Canadians, but to all citizens of this Earth.