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People & Culture

A timeline of the campaign to put a Canadian woman on our currency

  • Mar 09, 2016
  • 554 words
  • 3 minutes
The Bank of Canada has opened nominations for an iconic Canadian woman to appear on a banknote starting in 2018. (Image: Bank of Canada)
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News that a Canadian banknote will for the first time prominently feature an iconic Canadian woman in 2018 was received with excitement this week. Here’s a timeline of key events leading up to the decision, a breakdown of what happens next and how to get involved.

How we got here

  • 2004: The Bank of Canada issues a new $50 bill, which features an image of a sculpture of women’s rights campaigners the Famous Five and the image of a coin bearing the image of Thérèse Casgrain, who in 1951 became the first female leader of a political party in Canada.
  • 2011: The Bank of Canada issues a new series of polymer banknotes. The icebreaker CCGS Amundsen replaces the image of the Famous Five, sparking controversy over the decision to feature a ship rather than the influential women.
  • 2013: Merna Forster, a writer and historian, campaigns to have the Bank of Canada include women on banknotes. She starts a petition and receives more than 73,000 signatures supporting the cause.
  • January 2016: Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau — the official who has final approval of any new bill created by the Bank of Canada — announces that he supports adding female faces to Canadian banknotes.
  • March 8, 2016: On International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces that a Canadian woman will be featured on a banknote by 2018, and that the public will be able to nominate who should appear on the note.

What happens next?

  • April 15, 2016: The deadline for nominations.
  • The long list: The Bank of Canada will eventually publish a list of 10-12 names, followed by a formal public-opinion survey to “gauge the views of a representative sample of Canadians” about the nominees.
  • The short list: Once the survey is complete, the Bank of Canada Advisory Council will trim the long list to between three and fives names with the help of Jonathan Rose, a professor of political science at Queen’s University, and Barbara Crow, the dean of graduate studies at York University and past president of the Canadian Women’s Studies Association.
  • The final decision: Once the short list is compiled, the governor of the Bank of Canada will consult with the finance minister, who ultimately has the final say.
  • 2018: Once the minister decides who will appear on what denomination of banknote, the note will enter circulation.

What you can do Visit the Bank of Canada website to nominate an iconic Canadian woman. You can also share your nomination on Twitter using the hashtag #bankNOTEable. Nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • The nominee can be 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.
  • The nominee must not be a fictional character.
  • The nominee must have been deceased for at least 25 years (died before April 15, 1991).

Check out some of the notable women who have been nominated on Twitter so far:


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