Queen Was Only Woman on Canadian Money—Until Now

Viola Desmond, 'Rosa Parks of Canada,' to appear on $10 bill in 2018
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2016 10:26 AM CST

Only one woman currently appears on Canadian currency, but Queen Elizabeth II is about to get a partner. Starting in 2018, civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond—aka the "Rosa Parks of Canada"—will have her mug on the country's $10 bill, the Toronto Star reports. The Globe and Mail relays the story that made Desmond famous in November 1946, when her car broke down in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. While she was waiting for her car to be repaired, she went to see a movie—but because she was nearsighted, she couldn't see well from the balcony seats where black patrons were made to sit. Instead, Desmond took a seat in the whites-only section on the floor.

She refused to move when asked and ended up being arrested and spending the night in jail. She was charged and convicted of tax evasion (her balcony ticket cost a penny less than a floor ticket would have) and was fined $26. Desmond took her case all the way up to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, though her appeal was eventually dismissed. Desmond, who died in 1965 at the age of 50, was officially pardoned in 2010 by the region's black female lieutenant governor. "It's a big day to have a woman on a banknote," Desmond's sister said during the Thursday announcement ceremony about the currency change, per the Star. "It's [a] really big day to have my big sister on a bank note. She would be so very proud." (Some Canadians started slicing their banknotes in half.)

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