Mint’s first Black History Month coin celebrates Viola Desmond

The Royal Canadian Mint is paying tribute to a civil rights pioneer from Nova Scotia with its first Black History Month coin.

The silver collector coin pays tribute to Viola Desmond, who in 1946 was arrested and put on trial for refusing to sit in the segregated section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S.

“It became the catalyst for equal rights in Canada,” the mint noted in a news release.

It said Desmond’s “exceptional legacy” is now preserved on a 99.99 per cent pure silver coin.

The coin — which will retail for $20 — will be issued in time for what would have been Desmond’s 105th birthday, on July 6. Desmond died in 1965.

Desmond’s sister, Wanda Robson, was given a coin in advance.

“The engraved details in Viola’s portrait are beautiful, it is so striking. That’s Viola,” Robson is quoted as saying in the mint’s news release.

Desmond also graces Canada’s new $10 bill, which went into circulation late last year. One of Halifax’s harbour ferries is named after the iconic activist, as well.

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