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“In the annals of Canadian racial segregation, Viola Desmond is an emblematic figure of a time when black life was a constant struggle. Long before a certain Rosa Parks would mark the time by refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a bus, Viola Desmond refused to leave, in a cinema, a section reserved only for whites. "

Source: Black Ink

“Canada's Minister of Finance has announced that a first woman will be featured on everyday banknotes. The image of Viola Desmond will adorn, starting in 2018, the Canadian 10 $ banknote. A "first woman", as was repeated during this announcement, provided of course not to note the omnipresence of Queen Elizabeth II on all the coins in circulation since her coronation in 1953. "

Source: The duty

The following activity will allow students to learn more about this character who changed the history of Canada.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:

- Know the main stages in the life of Viola Desmond;
- Know the “banknotes” of Canada;
- Understand inequalities based on ethnic origin.

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: Who is Viola Desmond?

The page " Selection process Allows us to know how Viola Desmond was selected, by the Bank of Canada, to appear on the 10$ notes, but what do we really know about this woman?

Using the article " A Canadian on a TICKET Ask students to complete the following questions:

Download the file in PDF format (.pdf)
Download the file in Word format (.docx)
Download the response file (.pdf)

ACTIVITY 2: Who are our Canadian banknotes?

Using next activity, have students identify historical figures on the banknotes.

ACTIVITY 3: The struggle for civil rights

Viola Desmond is called the " Rosa Parks Canadian. These two women are “precursors” of the civil rights struggle. But they are not the only ones.
The United States has a long history of fighting for civil rights, as mentioned in the article " United States Civil Rights Timeline ".

After reading in class, ask students if this movement has borne fruit?

- Are there still social inequalities based on skin color?
- How can we ensure that the rights of each individual are respected?
- Is it the responsibility of the state or a private responsibility to raise awareness of “racial” equality?

More about the magazine

Heritage Minutes: Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond on 10$ CAN ticket, December 8, 2016

Viola Desmond
Historica Canada

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond to feature on new 10 $ banknotes
Here Radio-Canada Nova Scotia, December 8

The "Rosa Parks of Canada" on 10$ tickets
Le Soleil, December 8, 2016

Black History in Canada
Historica Canada

Who is Viola Desmond?
L'Encre Noir, March 8, 2016

In Canada, 10$ banknotes featuring Viola Desmond, Canadian, black and civil rights activist
TV5 Monde, December 9, 2016

Thérèse Casgrain among the favorites to appear on a banknote
Le Droit, May 19, 2016

Viola Desmond, a black activist on a bank note
Le Devoir, December 9, 2016

African American Civil Rights Movement