Who is Viola Desmond?

The Canadian 10-dollar note is a common banknote in circulation in Canada. Several prominent Canadians are present or have appeared on versions of the bill including Mary, the royal princess and the countess of Harewood, George VI, Elizabeth II and John A. Macdonald. A 2018 series of ten dollars was presented on March 8, 2018. The vertical banknote features Viola Desmond on the back of the account.

Who was Viola Desmond?

Viola Desmond was a human rights activist who defended the rights of black Canadians. He challenged racial discrimination in a theater in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in 1946, refusing to free up an area of ​​the theater that was not officially “just white”. Viola Desmond was arrested and charged with violating taxes as the difference between the place she paid and the one she sat in was a penny. His case has become a famous episode of racial discrimination in the history of Canada. The case marked the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the country.

Viola Desmond was granted a posthumous pardon in 2010, with the Nova Scotia government apologizing for his accusation. She was honored by becoming the first woman born in Canada to appear on the $ 10 account alone.

First years of Viola Desmond’s life

Born in July 6, 1914, Viola Irene Desmond had nine brothers. Although it was unusual at the time, his mother was white, his father was black. At an early age, Viola realized that there were no skin and skin care products available locally for black women in Nova Scotia. He took it upon himself to face that. However, as a black woman, she was not allowed to train and become a beautician in Halifax. She moved to Montreal and then to New York for her training. After his training, he returned to Halifax and opened a salon. He has also opened a beauty school for black women in Nova Scotia, with about 15 women graduating each year.

Viola Desmond’s arrest

In November 8, 1946, at the age of 32, Viola went to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, to sell her beauty products. On the road, his car broke and was told that it could only be repaired the following day. To pass the time, Viola decided to buy a ticket for the movie “The Dark Mirror” which was presented at the Roseland Film Theater. He sat on the seat of the main floor, in an area that that theater had unofficially reserved only for “white patrons”. When he was told to move to the balcony, Viola Desmond refused. She was then forcibly removed, arrested and taken to prison. She was charged with tax evasion and fined $ 20 and $ 6 for the court case she paid. When she returned to Halifax, she was encouraged by the local community to fight the prosecution in court. The criminal trial was unsuccessful and the case was dismissed.


After the trial failed, Desmond closed his business and moved to Montreal, where he enrolled in a business college. She later moved to New York where she settled until her death on February 7, 1965. She was buried in Camp Hill Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since its death, the Nova Scotia government has apologized for his death and admitted that it was illegal.

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