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Women on Canadian bills: Whose face would you like to see in 2018?

When the next series of bank notes rolls off the presses in 2018, one of them will, for the first time ever, bear the portrait of a woman other than the Queen on the face side – and nominations are open now, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister announced Tuesday. Here’s a primer on who qualifies and how to nominate them

Trudeau announces a Canadian woman will grace new bank note

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WHO’S DECIDING, AND HOW?

On March 8, International Women’s Day, the Bank of Canada opened a call for submissions from the public to decide which woman should be on a bank note. Nominations can be submitted here. An independent advisory council will review the submissions and, after talking to experts and more consultation with the public, will provide a short list of candidates to the finance minister. The new bank notes will then be released in 2018. A Bank of Canada spokesperson told The Globe that no decision has been made on which bill would have a woman on it.

Meanwhile, Canadians are also encouraged to offer their suggestions on social media under the hashtag #bankNOTEable. Here’s what some people have recommended:



WHO’S ELIGIBLE?

The nominations are open to “any Canadian woman (by birth or naturalization) who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, benefiting the people of Canada, or in the service of Canada.” They cannot be fictional characters (no Anne of Green Gables) and they have to have died before April 15, 1991 (no Anne Murray either).



HAVE WOMEN BEEN ON OUR BILLS BEFORE?

Since the Bank of Canada began issuing notes in 1935, the Queen and a few members of the Royal Family have been the only women featured on the face side of a bank note. The Famous Five – activists who pursued a successful court case to have women legally recognized as persons – were on the reverse side of the $50 bill from 2004 to 2011, as was pioneering Québécoise politician Thérèse Casgrain. Under former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, a redesigned $50 replaced those women with an icebreaker. (In his new job as governor of the Bank of England, Mr. Carney faced a renewed public appeal to put women on British currency who were not the Queen. The bank settled on Jane Austen, who will appear on the £10 note in 2017.)


WHAT DO HISTORIANS THINK?

Victoria-based historian Merna Forster was in a state of disbelief at Wednesday’s announcement. Ms. Forster has been writing letters to politicians and Bank of Canada governors for years saying that it is unacceptable not to have a single bill featuring a woman. Her campaign includes an online petition launched in 2013, which has since collected more than 73,000 signatures, and an interactive website that allows people to suggest which woman they would like to see on a bank note.

“I must admit that I was getting discouraged, but I knew it was important and I couldn’t give up,” she told The Canadian Press. Still, Ms. Forster never imagined the fight to memorialize Canadian women on the country’s money would take this long. “It’s just not right,” she said. “Women hold up half the sky. Why don’t they hold up half the bank notes?”

Personally, Forster doesn’t know who she’d choose, but she said she’s hoping to see someone who represents Canada’s diversity.


With a report from Evan Annett


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How do the Heritage Minutes stack up on gender and race? For Black History Month, Historica Canada told Viola Desmond’s story in a new Heritage Minute released today, the first ever to have a famous woman of colour as its central focus. Here’s a closer look at Ms. Desmond’s story, and how the Heritage Minutes have portrayed race and gender over the years.


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