A Black Woman Who Defied Segregation in Canada Will Appear on Its Currency

Ms. Desmond was an entrepreneur whose Halifax-based business had its own line of cosmetics. They were sold by the graduates of the Desmond School of Beauty Culture in Halifax.

A business trip to Sydney, Nova Scotia, led to the moment in which would likely eventually become Ms. Desmond’s legacy. After her car broke down in brand-new Glasgow, she made her way to the Roseland Theater.

Unaware of its segregation policy restricting black customers to the balcony, she requested a ground floor seat. The cashier, without informing Ms. Desmond, sold her a ticket for the balcony. Once inside, she was challenged by an usher however refused to move upstairs. The theater manager called the police along with also Ms. Desmond, then 32 years old, was arrested along with also held overnight in jail.

After her conviction, Ms. Desmond tried to sue the theater along with also to have her criminal conviction overturned. Both efforts failed. however Nova Scotia introduced laws banning segregation in 1954 along with also the province formally apologized to Ms. Desmond along with also issued a posthumous pardon in 2010. Ms. Desmond died in brand-new York at age 50 along with also was buried in Halifax.


A conceptual image of the front of the brand-new Canadian bank note featuring a portrait of Viola Desmond.

Bank of Canada

“Her legal challenge galvanized the black community in Halifax’s north end along with also paved the way for a broader understanding of human rights across our country,” Bill Morneau, the finance minister who made the final selection for the bills, said at the unveiling of the design last week.

With Ms. Desmond on its currency, Canada will join several some other countries in which have moved toward portraying women some other than monarchs on their currency.

Last summer, Mark Carney, the Canadian who is actually the governor of the Bank of England, announced in which the novelist Jane Austen would likely appear on Britain’s 10-pound notes. The United States has plans to put the black abolitionist Harriet Tubman on $20 bills, however the Trump administration may not go forward with them.

Two years ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who describes himself as a feminist along with also whose government requires departments to examine their programs to ensure gender equality, said the country would likely introduce a woman who wasn’t the monarch on the front of its bank notes. In a first, the Bank of Canada asked the public for nominations.

More than 26,000 suggestions poured in. The list was culled to 461 women, along with also a panel of experts by a variety of fields produced a shorter list for the government.

“the item was amazing,” said Jonathan Rose, a professor of political studies at Queen’s University who is actually a member of the panel in which made the recommendations. “the item’s a reimagining of our currency along with also the role the item plays in defining the country.”

Although Ms. Desmond becomes the first woman some other than the queen to be featured alone on the front of a Canadian bank note, she is actually not the first woman on Canadian money. Last year, for Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Bank of Canada issued a little number of special bank notes on which Agnes Macphail, the first woman elected to Parliament, shares the front with three male politicians.

Images of unidentified women, usually allegorical or generic, have appeared on the reverse sides of Canadian bank notes on along with also off since 1935.

Before Canada changed its immigration laws from the 1960s, nonwhite people struggled to immigrate to the country. Halifax was one of the few places in Canada using a substantial black community. Professor Walker said in which until the past decade or so, Canadian were generally unaware of Nova Scotia’s segregation system.

Ms. Desmond, he said, has changed in which.

“the item’s one of the exciting things about the Viola Desmond story,” he said.

Correction: March 12, 2018

An earlier variation of This kind of article described incorrectly the circumstances under which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. She was seated in a section where African-Americans were allowed to sit only if no white people were standing. She was not in a “whites-only section.”

Correction: March 13, 2018

Because of an editing error, an earlier variation of This kind of article misstated the number of women who have appeared alone on Canadian currency. the item is actually not just Queen Elizabeth II; some other women from the British royalty have been pictured.

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