Five Things I’d Buy with My Crisp New Viola Desmond $10 Bill

In celebration of Canada’s newest bank note, here’s how I’d spend my Desmond dollars

A image of the new $10 bill with Viola Desmond on it
(Image courtesy Bank of Canada)

We may not yet have equal pay (women still take home than dudes every year, women of colour even less than that), but I’m in the mood to make it rain $10 bills.

To mark International Women’s Day, the Bank of Canada unveiled its very first wide-circulation bank note to feature the face of a woman other than the Queen. The legacy of civil rights activist —arrested in the 1940s for refusing to vacate her seat in the “whites” section of a Nova Scotia movie theatre — is finally being recognized and will soon be stuffed in the wallets of Canadians coast to coast to coast.

But since I am and therefore not in a position to pass out stacks of cold hard cash, I’ve had to scale back my ambitions to dream up what I’d do with just one of those 10 buckaroo notes. Still, I’m pretty excited to spend my Desmond dollars in these ways:

One ticket to see

With just $10 in hand, I’d have to skip the VIP reclining-massage-chair seats and go on cheap night, smuggling in my own snacks. But I’d like to think Desmond would be down to check out this empowering fantasy “flick made by Ava DuVernay, the first black woman to direct a movie with a $100 million budget, and starring Oprah and Storm Reid.

An hour of childcare

Except if you live in Quebec, of course, where 10 bucks will buy an entire day. But in urban centres like Toronto, where the  hover in the $1,700 zone for an infant, a tenner will really only get you care for an eighth of the day. Sigh.

A box of tampons for homeless women

Being on your period sucks at the best of times. But imagine not having having enough money to eat, let alone purchase feminine hygiene products? I’d spend my Desmond dollars buying a box of tampons and I’d get them in the hands of homeless women in my community. Projects like , which delivers purses filled with tampons, pads, and wellness items directly to homeless, abused, and impoverished menstruators across Ontario can help with that.

A donation to a women’s organization

Yes, women’s organizations just got promised $100 million in the . But that doesn’t mean these hardworking, severely underpaid and overworked feminists on the ground don’t still need donations from the public to do the daily work of making life better for women. I’d look for organizations such as the YWCA or the Native Women’s Association of Canada or for efforts that strive to improve the lives and daily experiences of women of colour. A little goes a long way.

A celebratory latte with Wanda Robson

Desmond’s sister has pushed for YEARS to have her sister’s legacy recognized, her efforts dating to . It was so moving to see her speechless of the bank note featuring her sister’s face. I’d love to treat her to a cuppa at her favourite café and hear her talk all about her sister’s legacy, what she thinks has changed for the better and what still needs to be done to make Canada a more equitable place. Wanda, how do you take your tea?


Documentaries About Kickass Women to Watch on Netflix for International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day Could Learn A LOT from Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time
So You Found Out You Make Less Than a Male Colleague, What Now?

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