The colour is the same, but the two different images motivated historian and writer, Merna Forster to start a petition. 48,000 Canadians have signed it so far.
Photo Credit: Merna Forster

Currency makeover:


Canadian currency features just one well-known woman, and she is not Canadian.  Queen Elizabeth II, our head of state, is on most coins and bills, but Merna Forster, and 48,000 other Canadians want that to change.  They want to see other women honoured for their significant contributions to Canada.


This all began with the new series of polymer banknotes, issued in 2011. They rolled out into use over time, from the hundred dollar bill down to the five dollar bill in 2013.  This replacement series was troubled from the start.  The plastic polymer surface was a problem for vending machines, they were said to melt in strong heat, and former Bank of Canada Governor, Mark Carney, was obliged to apologize when it became known the bank had changed the Asian features of a female scientist on the prototype of the new $100 bill, following questions about her ethnicity from focus groups.

But it was the fact that the altered and anonymous woman was the only one left on the new Canadian currency that bothered Merna Forster.  Many Canadians had become accustomed to the Famous Five, and Quebec feminist activist, Therese Casgrain, featured on the back of the red fifty dollar bill.  They disappeared in the new Canadian series, dedicated to distinguished Canadian Prime Ministers, and in the case of the fifty, replaced by an icebreaker.

Merna Forster is a historian and author of, ‘100 Canadian Heroines:  Famous and Forgotten Faces‘.  She is also the woman behind the on-line petition to have the Bank of Canada commit to including women on our currency.  The site is at,

Merna Forster says women on banknotes in 2014 is not novel.  She lists several countries such as Japan, Venezuela, Peru, Columbia, Mexico and Turkey, to name a few, that all feature at least one woman.  She says Australia may have done it best, featuring a man on one side and a woman on the other, of four of their bills.

Some people say to me, oh this is not a significant issue, well it’s a symbolic issue, it’s important and something needs to be done about it.

In Britain, ironically, it was Mark Carney, who settled a similar debate and was featured in all the positive publicity surrounding the decision to put classic writer Jane Austen on the ten pound note.  She will make her debut in 2017.

The Bank of Canada has undertaken an on-line consultation with Canadians that ends November 10th, in an effort to hear what people would like to see on the next series.

While the Bank has established design priorities that include greater diversity, Merna Forster wants to have women specifically included.  She regularly shares with the Bank of Canada what Canadians are telling her on-line,

First female signature

It is worth noting, however, that while we may not have enough female images, we will soon have a female signature on our currency.  Carolyn A. Wilkins was appointed Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada this past May. Her signature will be rolling out on the next series of twenty dollar bills, during the first half of 2015.


Categories: Economy, International, Politics, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.


One comment on “Currency makeover:
  1. Avatar Maurice Alarie says:

    I totally agree. The Queen can feature on one bill or one coin, but the rest should be reserved for Canadians male or female or other prominent international persons that have contributed significantly to making this planet a better world. The space should not be reserved for politicians only. How about Roberta Bondar or Chris Hadfield….Wayne Gretsky, Samuel de Champlain..among a great many other great Canadians…