Civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond who defied authorities and sat in the white section of a movie theatre was chosen Thursday to be the first Canadian female face on a banknote.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau made the announcement at a press conference in Gatineau, Quebec.
Desmond, who became a black rights activist, will replace Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, on the $10 bill beginning in 2018, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Bank of Canada asked Canadians for their choice to grace the note and there were 26,000 submissions, with 461 names that was whittled down to five finalists, with Desmond the winner.
“We started by asking Canadians,” Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said, as reported by Global News television. “And let me tell you — they told us.”
Desmond’s act of civil disobedience is often compared with that of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her white-only seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955.
But nine years prior, in 1946, Desmond, who was 32 at the time, entered a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and sat in a white-only seat.
The theatre manager asked her to go upstairs to the black section and when she refused, police were called and she was forcibly removed.
She spent a night in jail and was fined $26 in court for not paying a tax of three cents for a seat.
Desmond went on to become a businesswoman who established a beauty school and, as a black activist mentored young black women in Nova Scotia before her death in 1965, Global reported. She was granted a posthumous pardon and official apology by the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia in 2010.
“She represents courage, strength and determination – qualities we should all aspire to every day,” Morneau said, as reported by the Canadian Press wire service.