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Black rights activist Viola Desmond to be 1st Canadian woman on $10 bill

Black rights activist Viola Desmond will be the first Canadian woman to be featured on the country's $ 10 bill, beginning in 2018.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz announced the selection of the beautician and businesswoman, who is best known for her refusal to accept racial segregation in a Nova Scotia movie theatre, during an announcement in Ottawa today.

Desmond's image will replace that of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister, on the purple bank note.

Morneau called her an "extraordinary woman."

Desmond is often referred to as "Canada's Rosa Parks," though her historic act of defiance occurred nine years before Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala.

At age 32, Desmond was heading to the Roseland Theatre to see a movie while her car was getting fixed, but was she thrown off the bus and sent to jail because she failed to pay a one-cent tax, even though she offered to pay the difference. Segregation laws were in place and black people could only sit in the balcony of the theatre.

She was granted a free pardon posthumously.

Desmond's younger sister, Wanda Robson, who is now 89, has kept her legacy alive by giving interviews and writing a book about her story. She attended Thursday's announcement, and expressed pride and gratitude on behalf of the family.

"It's a big day for a woman to be on a banknote. It's a really big day to have my big sister on a banknote," she said, describing Desmond as a "passionate" woman who cared deeply for people. "She inspired them as she inspires us."

Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu praised Desmond as an advocate for change.

"This spirit of activism is the force that allows us to make progress together as a society on difficult issues like racism, and sexism and inequality," Hajdu said.

Morneau called it a "tremendous challenge" to select one woman who will represent the countless contributions of women who broke down barriers and shaped Canada's history.

Morneau said it was important to pick just one single woman so their story will be remembered, and serve as an inspiration to all.

Poloz called it a "historic day" to celebrate women's role and contributions in Canada.

The others on the short list were:

E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913): Johnson, a Mohawk woman, was an acclaimed writer, poet and performer, whose work often examined Indigenous culture and traditions.
Elizabeth (Elsie) MacGill (1905-1980): MacGill, the first woman in the world to work as an aircraft designer, is known for her work on the Hawker Hurricane fighter planes used in the Second World War.
Fanny (Bobbie) Rosenfeld (1905-1969): Rosenfeld won gold and silver on the track at the 1928 summer Olympics in Amsterdam.
Idola Saint-Jean (1880-1945): Saint-Jean, an educator and journalist, fought for women's right to vote in Quebec.
The final five were selected by an independent advisory council, which drew from a list of 12 names. According to the Bank of Canada's website, that list was from a pool of 461 "iconic" women whose names were submitted by Canadians and met the eligibility requirements.

Poloz said more than 10,000 names were submitted in a process that engaged people of all ages across the country.

To be eligible, the individuals had to be a Canadian (by birth or naturalization) who had "demonstrated outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, benefiting the people of Canada, or in the service of Canada."

They also had to be dead for at least 25 years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the plan to feature a Canadian woman on the banknote (the Queen's image appears on the front of bills) on International Women's Day in March.

The new regular circulation banknote — the first in a forthcoming series — is expected to begin appearing in 2018.

Thérèse Casgrain, a Quebec feminist and The Famous Five — Louise Crummy McKinney, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Emily Murphy — who fought for women's rights in Canada, were featured on the back of the $ 50 bill between 2004 and 2012.

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Source: ONTD_Political

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