Canada’s new and first vertically oriented $10 bill is now in circulation.
Both sides of the purple polymer banknote tell a story of how a single act of
courage and defiance gave rise to Canada’s ongoing pursuit of human rights and
The front of the bill features civil rights activist Viola Desmond, the
first black person and non-royal woman ever to be pictured on a regularly
circulating bill. A story largely unknown to many Canadians for years, Desmond was
jailed after her refusal to leave her seat in the “whites-only” section of a
Nova Scotia movie theatre in 1946. In a time and place where racial segregation
was commonplace, Desmond’s act stood up against the systematic discrimination
experienced daily by many African Canadians.
On the other side stands the PCL-built Canadian Museum for Human Rights
(CMHR), a bricks-and-mortar symbol of the progression we have made as a country
since Viola Desmond’s courageous act in 1946.
Officially opened in 2014, the national museum explores the evolution
and future of Canadian human rights and is the first museum to be printed on
Canadian currency. Standing as a beacon to visitors from around the world, the
CMHR encourages us to reflect on what we can do to bring change to future
NEW BILL TO BRING CONVERSATION ABOUT ACCEPTANCE AND RECOGNITION INTO
is a significant thread in the fabric of who we once were and now are as a
nation. We live in a country that has the guts to shine a public light into its
dark corners and use this same light to show us a better path forward,” said
PCL Winnipeg senior construction manager Rob Duerksen, responsible for
overseeing the construction of the CMHR.
Racial segregation was legally ended in Nova
Scotia in 1954, partly because of the publicity that Desmond’s case generated.
Her defiant stand is featured in an exhibit housed in the CMHR’s Canadian
“PCL is proud to have played a part in the amazing story line that will
be showcased not only in Canada, but all over the world on our new $10 bill.”
ABOUT THE CMHR
- Completed in 2014, the museum is designed and
built to meet LEED® Silver Certification for environmental sustainability.
- The building design includes many unique
elements strongly related to human rights themes, such as four stone “roots”
that symbolize humanity’s connection to Mother Earth, a Tyndall stone
“mountain” that houses the gallery spaces, a vertical “Hall of Hope” full of
illuminated alabaster-clad ramps that crisscross in an irregular pattern up
eight stories to a skylight, a light-filled “Garden of Contemplation” beneath a
massive glass “cloud,” and an inspiring “Tower of Hope.”
- The Tower of Hope rises to 100 meters (328
feet), or about 30 stories: 23 meters taller than Manitoba’s Golden Boy and
eight meters higher than Ottawa’s Peace Tower.