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Canada's Viola Desmond $10 bill note wins international banknote competition

Canada’s new $10 bill featuring Nova Scotia human-rights icon Viola Desmond has been named banknote of the year.


The bill, which also features a map of Halifax’s historic north end as well as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, was honored in a vote by the International Bank Note Society. The society says in a news release that the Desmond bill was a favourite of its voting membership right from the start.

Desmond became the first female Canadian to be featured prominently on a banknote.

Queen Elizabeth II, who is the most commonly depicted person on paper money around the world, has long been depicted on Canadian currency.

In 2004, women were featured on the back of a $50 Canadian general circulation banknote, including a group who campaigned for women's suffrage in the country.

Desmond, a black businesswoman from Nova Scotia, stood at the forefront of Canada's early civil rights movement when she refused to vacate a whites-only area of a theatre in 1946.

The back of the $10 note depicts the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The $10 Viola Desmond note (centre) beat competition from Russia (left) and Venezuela (right)

The purple polymer bill was the first vertically oriented banknote issued in Canada.

Ms. Desmond is the first black person – and the first non-royal woman – on a regularly circulating Canadian banknote. The bill marks a growing recognition of Ms. Desmond’s refusal to leave the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia movie theatre on Nov. 8, 1946 – nearly a decade before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Alabama – and the seminal role it played in Canada’s civil-rights movement. The organisation considers the artistic merit, design, use of colour, contrast, balance and security features of each nominated bank note.

Ms. Desmond is the first black person – and the first non-royal woman – on a regularly circulating Canadian banknote. The bill marks a growing recognition of Ms. Desmond’s refusal to leave the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia movie theatre on Nov. 8, 1946 – nearly a decade before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Alabama – and the seminal role it played in Canada’s civil-rights movement.

International Bank Note Society is a non-profit education organisation that works to advance the study of worldwide banknotes and paper currencies. The organization considers the artistic merit, design, use of colour, contrast, balance and security features of each nominated bank note.







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