On November 23, 2018, the Allard School of Law held a commemorative event to acknowledge the circulation of the newly minted $10 Canadian bank note featuring Canadian civil rights icon Viola Desmond. Co-hosting the event with the Bank of Canada, the Allard School of Law welcomed a variety of noted speakers, prominent members of the British Columbia legal community, the student body, and members of the public to celebrate the bill going into circulation.
Following thought-provoking speeches from Madam Justice Nitya Iyer and students from the Black Students Law Association at the Allard School of Law, poet Juliane Okot Bitek gave a powerful reading of her poem Gauntlet. Attendants were also invited to exchange their old $10 bills for the new one.
Viola Desmond is the first woman and Black Canadian to appear on Canadian currency. Born in 1914 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Desmond became a prominent businesswoman and celebrated civil rights activist. In 1946 Desmond refused to leave the “whites-only” section of a Nova Scotian movie theatre. Her subsequent arrest and conviction attracted nationwide media attention and made a significant impact on the fight against racial discrimination in Canada. Desmond received a posthumous pardon in 2010.