‘Black Lives Matter’ reference considered in plans for new $10 note

The Bank of Canada discussed referencing the Black Lives Matter movement in its design for the recently released $10 banknote featuring civil rights activist and business owner Viola Desmond.

The reference was discussed during a design meeting on Nov. 2, 2016, one month before the bank publicly announced Desmond would be featured on the first note of its as-of-yet unnamed eighth series, according to a Jan. 13 story published by HuffPost Canada, which obtained the meeting notes through an access-to-information request.

“Many of Desmond’s concerns are still issues in Canada and people are still protesting and still dying for this,” experts are quoted in the meeting notes as saying, citing the activism led by Black Lives Matter, an international activist movement founded in 2013 to protest violence and systemic racism towards black people.

What began as a response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old male, in Florida in 2012 has since inspired chapters around the world, including in Canada.


In July 2015, Black Lives Matter protesters blocked Allen Road, an expressway and arterial road in Toronto, in protest of the police shooting deaths of two black men, Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby.

That September, Black Lives Matter protestors blocked other streets in Toronto in an effort to rally against police brutality.

The following summer, Black Lives Matter was chosen by Pride Toronto as the honouree of the 2016 Pride parade, during which they staged a sit-in to block the parade from moving forward for about 30 minutes. Protestors issued several demands, including improved diversity in Pride’s staff and volunteer base and banning Toronto police from marching in the parade in uniform.

Mathieu Chantelois, Pride’s executive director, signed the protestors’ statement of demand but later asserted he only wanted to end the sit-in and continue the parade, adding he did not agree to honour the demands.

In August 2016, Black Lives Matter activists protested outside Mississauga’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) –  the civilian oversight agency responsible for investigating circumstances involving police that have resulted in a death, serious injury, or allegations of sexual assault of a civilian in Ontario – in response to the death of Abdirahman Abdi, who died during an arrest in Ottawa.

According to documents obtained by CBC, Toronto police monitored protestors’ activities by searching social media and compiling intelligence reports as they camped outside SIU headquarters.


During the November 2016 design meeting, experts consulted by the Bank of Canada suggested using a security element to convey the racism experienced by Desmond persists through the present day.

“Use the hologram to capture some lines from the Black Lives Matter movement,” reads the meeting notes. “Emphasize the connect between the past and present.”

According to HuffPost Canada, it’s unknown who attended the meeting on Nov. 2, 2016, or who made the suggestion to reference the Black Lives Matter movement.

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