Although, as a Commonwealth country, Canada currently has Queen Elizabeth II on every $20 bill, the only Canadian women honoured on a banknote were recently removed. In 2001, Canada’s redesigned $50 bill featured The Famous Five, a group of women who successfully petitioned the supreme court to recognize women as “persons” in the constitution of the 1920s. In 2011, a new series of bills removed the women and replaced them with an icebreaker.
A petition on Change.org began to circulate, stating “Bank notes that belong to all Canadians should depict a wider range of Canadians, of both genders as well as various ethnic origins. Who and what is celebrated on our bank notes matters, as it reflects what we consider important in our culture and history and who we consider worthy of honouring for achievement. Women are not absent from the list of notable worthies in Canada, just notably absent or under-represented in many of the images that surround us and which contribute to our view of the world and our potential role in it.”
The petition gained support from people like author/poet Margaret Atwood. But now the people behind it have found a fun way to engage the public: By having them nominate their own famous Canadian women for an upcoming issue of the $100 bill with a photo mockup tool.
The controversy is similar to the recent one in the UK, in which the result was Jane Austin being put on the £10 note. Interestingly, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, was Governor of the Bank of Canada when the controversial 2011 Canadian bills were announced.
(My sample suggestion, up top, is Joni Mitchell, although she is still alive.)
Women on Banknotes