Viola Desmond, The First Canadian Woman to Appear Alone on a Bank Note ($10 bill)
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Viola Desmond, The First Canadian Woman to Appear Alone on a Bank Note ($10 bill)

Viola Desmonddesmond

She was born in Nova Scotia, Canada on July 6, 1914.  Viola grew up in a middle-class mixed-race family, one of ten children of James Albert and Gwendolin Irene DavisOne.

When Viola graduated from high school,  she worked as a teacher in two racially-segregated schools for Black students. After that period, she was refused admittance to Nova Scotia’s hairdressing school because of her race, so she was forced to  attended classes at the Field Beauty Culture School in Montreal and New York.

Once she obtained her diplomas she became an entrepreneur, Viola returned to home and open the salon Vi’s Studio of Beauty Culture in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Time later, she opened the Desmond School of Beauty Culture to provide training that would support the growth of employment for young Black women. Viola also created her own line of beauty products, which were sold at venues owned by graduates of her beauty school.

At age 32, in 1946, during a trip, she experienced a car trouble. While her car was getting fixed, Viola decided to go to the theater, which was segregated with a “whites only” main floor and a balcony for black patrons. Unaware of the segregation policy, Viola proceeded to the main floor but she was thrown out of that section by the police, causing injury to her hip. At the end, she was fined $20 and sent to jail.

On 8 December 2016, the Bank of Canada announced that Viola Desmond would appear on the face of the $10 bills to be released in 2018.

Source: Communications Nova Scotia/Bank of Canada/Flickr
A portrait of Viola Desmond, circa 1940. The new Canadian $10 bill bears her image. (Communications Nova Scotia/Bank of Canada/Flickr)



Harris Kathleen (December 8,2016) Black rights activist Viola Desmond to be 1st Canadian woman on $10 bill, CBC News, Available online, Desmond, Viola Davis (1914,1965) Available online

Bingham, Russel (January 23,2013) Viola Desmond, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Available online