Iconic Canadian women to be on banknotes

The image of an iconic Canadian woman will appear on the next issue of our nation’s banknotes.

The image of an iconic Canadian woman will appear on the next issue of our nation’s banknotes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made this announcement last week on International Women’s Day.

“A Canadian woman will be featured on the very first of the next series of bills expected in 2018,” he said in a press conference. “The Bank of Canada is taking the first step by launching public consultations to select an iconic Canadian woman to be featured on this new bill.”

At this time, the government did not indicate which bill would showcase an iconic female.

During the press conference, Finance Minister Bill Morneau indicated it was, “High time to change,” as for roughly 150 years, women have been underrepresented on our currency.

“One of the very first things I had the honour of doing as the new finance minister was asking the governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, and his colleagues at the bank whether it’s in fact possible to put a woman on the bank note,” said Morneau.

In order to make this possible, from now until April 15th, Canadians can submit nominations for the woman they think they should appear on the bill. Nominees can be any non-fictional Canadian woman, who has been deceased for over 25 years, who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, according to the press release.

Once all nominations have been received, an independent advisory council will review the submissions and present a short list to the finance minister for his consideration.

This news is long over due. While our current $20 bill does feature a female Queen Elizabeth- she is not Canadian. The last series of $50 bills included images of five notable Canadian women ‘the Famous Five’ but were then replaced in 2011 by an image of an icebreaker.

Nominations have been rolling in already. Some of the more popular suggestions of noteworthy Canadian women include Nellie McClung (who led the charge for the women’s vote in the early 1900s), artist Emily Carr, Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery, Laura Secord (heroine of the War of 1812) and civil rights activist Viola Desmond.

The government should also consider re-instating the image of the Famous Five (five Alberta women who petitioned the Supreme Court of Canada to consider women as legal persons so that women could be eligible to be appointed to the Senate).

Surely after such an old boys’ club, there are many other noteworthy Canadian women who we can place on a bill. Nominations can be submitted to the Bank of Canada’s web site until April 15th.