Viola Desmond, a woman who stood up for the rights of black people in Nova Scotia and went to jail for it, was honoured Thursday as a new $10 bill featuring her image was unveiled.
The vertical banknote was unveiled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz during a ceremony at the Halifax Central Library.
But it was Desmond’s sister, Wanda Robson, who was given the honour of formally revealing the design of Canada’s new $10 bill, pulling a black cloth off a blown-up image of the banknote before being handed a wallet-sized version.
“Is this mine?” she asked Morneau, who then offered to hold it for her, prompting the 91-year-old to joke: “You’re not getting it.”
“I say thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Robson. “Our family will go down in history — in history, imagine that.”
The civil rights activist was convicted of defrauding the province of a one-penny tax — the difference in tax between a downstairs and upstairs ticket — even though Desmond had asked to pay the difference.
She was released after paying a $20 fine and $6 in court costs. She appealed her conviction but lost.