On March 8, 2018, International Women’s Day, bank note history was made as the design of Canada’s upcoming $10 bill, featuring social justice defender Viola Desmond, was unveiled to Canadians.
In an emotional ceremony at the Halifax Central Library, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen S. Poloz, accompanied by Viola Desmond’s sister, Wanda Robson, revealed the first regularly circulating note to feature a Canadian woman as the portrait subject. It’s also the first vertically oriented note to be issued by the Bank of Canada.
This new note will be issued gradually, starting late this year, and will circulate along with the existing $10 notes. As the new regular $10 note, it will be produced by the Bank of Canada for years to come.
The vertical orientation reflects the Bank’s innovative approach to bank note design, and allows for a larger portrait of Viola Desmond, a successful Black Nova Scotia businesswoman and one of the first women to fight racial segregation in Canada.
“As we strive for equality across our economy and in every facet of our country, we hope this constant reminder of Viola’s story will help inspire a new generation of women, men, girls and boys to fight for what they believe, take their place and create a better future for themselves and all Canadians,” said Minister Morneau during the unveiling ceremony.
The back of the bank note brings Viola Desmond’s story into the present, with images and symbols that represent Canada’s ongoing pursuit of rights and freedoms.
Canadians had their say
Unveiling the note’s design was the culmination of a journey that began in 2016, when the public was asked to nominate an iconic Canadian woman to appear on the next bank note.
During this comprehensive consultation process, Viola Desmond was one of the many iconic women nominated by Canadians, and was ultimately chosen by the Minister of Finance.
With the release of this new $10 note, the Bank of Canada’s approach to issuing bank notes is changing. Rather than issuing all five denominations within a short time frame, a new note will be released every few years. This will allow the Bank to integrate the latest security features each time a new bank note is issued, ensuring that Canadians can continue to use their bank notes with confidence.
Beautiful and secure
Meanwhile, the upcoming $10 note has some enhanced security features compared with the notes in the current series, and is supported by a suite of accessibility features to help blind and partially-sighted Canadians determine the denomination with confidence.
“Our bank notes are designed not only to be a secure and durable means of payment, but also to be works of art that tell the stories of Canada. This new $10 fits that bill,” said Governor Poloz.
“I’m immensely proud of all the innovation that went into this note—from the public consultation process that encouraged a national conversation on the important contributions of women in Canadian history, to the note’s beautiful vertical design, to its cutting-edge security features. Canadians can use this note with both confidence and pride.”
Canada’s Vertical $10 at a glance
Secure, Durable and Easy to Use
The Bank of Canada issues new bank notes to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats and to keep pace with advances in technology. The new $10 note includes some enhanced security features to make it hard to counterfeit yet easy to use, thereby ensuring that Canadians maintain trust in their money.
For free, downloadable materials to help your business train staff to recognize genuine Canadian bank notes and avoid counterfeits, visit www.bankofcanada.ca/retailers.
Collaboration with the Cash- Handling Industry
The Bank is working with financial institutions and bank note equipment manufacturers to minimize the impact of this note on the cash-handling industry. The new $10 note maintains the same suite of machine-readable features as the current polymer notes: it is made from the same polymer material, the large transparent window is in the same position, and it retains an opaque border around the window.
Business owners of bank note handling equipment should contact their equipment suppliers with questions about machine compatibility.
If you would like to learn more about how the Bank works with the cash-handling machine industry, visit: www. bankofcanada.ca/cash-handling-machine-industry.
The Portrait: Courage and Dignity
A successful Black Nova Scotia businesswoman, Viola Desmond defiantly refused to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre in 1946 and was subsequently jailed, convicted and fined. Her court case is one of the first known legal challenges against racial segregation brought forth by a Black woman in Canada.
Viola Desmond was selected as the portrait subject for this new note by Finance Minister Bill Morneau following an open call to Canadians to nominate iconic Canadian women who could appear on the redesigned $10 bank note.
Map: The Historic North End of Halifax
Adjacent to the portrait, an artistic rendering shows a map of Halifax as it appeared in 1951 when Viola Desmond lived and worked in the North End of the city. Members of this community were a great support to her as she challenged her criminal conviction.
Canadian national symbols, namely the Canadian flag, maple leaves and the Coat of Arms, are presented as metallic elements in and around the large transparent window on the note. The main element in the large window is based on the vaulted dome ceiling of the Library of Parliament.
A Window into Human Rights
The back of the note carries Viola Desmond’s story into the present, with images and symbols that represent Canada’s ongoing pursuit of rights and freedoms, including The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which opened in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 2014. It’s the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights.
The Eagle Feather: Truth, Power and Freedom
For many First Nations peoples in Canada, the eagle is believed to fly higher and see further than any other bird, and an eagle feather symbolizes ideals such as truth, power and freedom. It is intended to represent the ongoing journey towards recognizing rights and freedoms for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
Visit www.bankofcanada.ca/vertical10 to learn more about the security features and design of Canada’s new $10 bank note.