MINI-LESSON – Jean Augustine

Watch the interview with Jean Augustine and respond to the questions provided below.

Video: Exclusive Interview: The Hon Jean Augustine 

Reflection Questions 

  1. What is a role model? 
  1. Why do you think it is important for students to learn about Black Canadians in the government? 



Please hover over the WEEK 2 LESSON and click on the “A Noteworthy Woman” tab to access the lesson outline.  

In this lesson students will use a historical thinking approach to examine the historical significance of the Viola Desmond $10 bank note.



Take a look inside your wallet. What symbols and themes are on the bank notes within? What do they represent to you? Imagine visitors from around the world using our currency—what story does it tell about Canada?

The theme for the newest Canadian $10 is social justice and human rights, inspired by the portrait subject, Viola Desmond.


The Government of Canada invited Canadians to nominate the portrait subject of the new $10. Once Viola Desmond was chosen, a theme was developed for the note to reflect Viola’s story and what she represents to Canadians. Viola’s legacy was her challenge against racial segregation in 1940s Canada. This is the first time that the portrait subject on the front of a Canadian bank note has directly inspired the theme on the back. In this way, the bank note reflects something of value and inspiration to Canadians: our ongoing pursuit of equality, human rights and social justice.

As a class, examine the symbols and themes on the new $10 bank note. symbols on the note complement Viola’s story and represent human rights in Canada:

  • A historic map of Halifax’s North End
  • The Library of Parliament’s dome ceiling
  • The Canadian flag
  • The Canadian Coat of Arms
  • The Canadian Museum for Human Rights
  • An eagle feather
  • An excerpt of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • The laurel leaf, as seen in the Supreme Court of Canada

Assign a group of students to research each of these symbols, using the inquiry question: How does this symbol represent human rights or social justice in Canada?  Some research links are included at the end of this blog postEncourage students to think critically about their answers. As part of a follow-up discussion, you could ask students to brainstorm what other symbols they would include to represent human rights.

Reflecting Canada

Now your students will design their own bank notes. In designing bank notes, the Bank is concerned with security, functionality, accessibility and bilingualism—but also that notes represent Canada.  Each note depicts new visual content so that, over time, the diversity of Canadian society, culture and achievements are celebrated. Bank notes:

  • promote Canada and Canadians – our values, culture, history, traditions, achievements and/or natural heritage;
  • are clearly identifiable as Canadian through the use of symbols, words or images;
  • are meaningful to Canadians today and for years to come; and
  • evoke pride and confidence in Canada.

Choose, research and present another notable Black Canadian who could appear on a bank note in the future.  You may select an individual that has been highlighted in the Virtual Gallery, or a Black Canadian of your own choosing.