Halifax — Black rights activist Viola Desmond has been chosen as the first Canadian woman to be pictured on bank note, beginning in 2018. The Nova Scotia businesswoman and beautician was a finalist for the honour alongside a writer, a journalist, an Olympian and an aircraft designer.
An independent advisory council chose from a shortlist of 12 women to be shown on the $10 bill; according to the Bank of Canada, this list was narrowed down from 461 iconic women whose names were submitted by Canadians.
“This is the woman who stood up against racial segregation in a movie theatre, and we’re putting her on a $10 bill, which won’t even get you into a showing of Bad Santa 2? Kind of ironic, don’t you think?” asked Dalhousie University Gender and Women’s studies professor Melanie Anderson. “At least put her on a $20 for god’s sake.”
Anderson said that if they truly wanted to honour Desmond, they should put her likeness on a $50 bill. “Fifty or even 100 would make the most sense — it pretty much costs that much these days to go to a movie with your significant other and get a popcorn and a Diet Coke. And then you’re broke for the rest of the week. $10 is a joke!”
Other Canadians are likewise miffed about the choice of denomination.
“I went to the movies last week with my girlfriend and shelled out probably 40 bucks,” said Haligonian Trevor Burton. “That was two tickets for Doctor Strange, some watered-down Sprite and a box of Milk Duds. If the Canadian Mint people want to put Viola Desmond on a bill, then $20 seems fitting. Two Violas for one movie!”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the country’s most vocal feminist, announced the plan to picture a woman on a Canadian banknote on International Women’s Day in March.
“Trudeau’s probably never paid for a movie in his life,” said professor Anderson, “so it makes sense that he would be so out of touch as to assume $10 can get you into a showing at your local Cineplex.
“It just goes to show that women have a long way to go to get any real recognition. If ‘Canada’s Rosa Parks’ were alive today, she’d probably be fighting the exorbitant cost of seeing a film. Maybe that’s what’s next for Canadian women.”