Councillors lobby to feature more women banknotes

Yes, it is about the money

Jean Augstine, former Minister of Status of Women  Courtesy of Lawrence Kerr Photography

Last month Justin Trudeau reminded Canadians that “it’s 2015” when he announced that his Cabinet would be gender balanced. However, some Canadians are still not satisfied with the representation of women in Canada.

City councillors Mary Fragedakis of Toronto-Danforth and Marvin Rotrand of Snowden in Montreal have written to Finance Minister William Francis Moreneau asking that more women be featured on Canadian bank notes.

The letter is a reaction to another from Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada, indicating that more women may feature on the next series of bank notes. The councillors are hoping for a more “proactive” response from the government.

“We ask that the new government let the Bank of Canada and the Royal Mint know that promoting equality is a fundamental Canadian value,” Rotrand wrote.

No women have been featured on Canadian bank notes since the $50 bill from the 2001 Journey Series, which honoured Thérèse Casgrain and the Famous Five.

Historian and author Merna Forster has been campaigning to have more females celebrated on Canadian banknotes for years. Forster is the author of the book, 100 Canadian Heroines, and raised money for a statue of famous artist Emily Carr in Victoria, B.C.

After Casgrain and the Famous Five were removed from banknotes in 2011, Forster “felt it was necessary” to start a campaign. In 2013, Forster launched a petition with to have more women featured on Canadian money. The petition has gained more than 64,000 signatures.

Her goal is to “ensure the amazing women from Canadian history are not forgotten,” she said.

Jean Augustine, former Minister of Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, was involved with the motion that got Casgrain and the Famous Five on the old $50 bill. Augustine believes it’s important to honour the women who have contributed to Canada’s history.

“It gives credence that women are respected and acknowledged for their contributions,” Augustine said.

Augustine remarked that Trudeau’s decision to have a gender-balanced Cabinet sends a “great message” and creates role models for women. She added that it’s important that Canada’s diversity be represented in our every day lives.

“If you can’t see yourself there it becomes harder to get there,” Augustine said.

Fragedakis believes Trudeau’s decision will affect how both men and women think of females in the political sphere.

“I think it’s a signal to men in society that we’re all equal,” she commented.

When it comes to making decisions that impact everyone, Fragedakis said it’s important to have multiple perspectives.

“Gender is one aspect of diversity in our society and we have to reflect our society in it’s truest form,” she added.

England and Austrailia have already chosen some women to be the face of their currency. England is introducing a 10-pound note that will feature novelist Jane Austen and Australia has a man on one side and a woman on the other for most of it’s banknotes.

Merna also worked with to create a website where people can suggest notable Canadian women who could be featured on banknotes. There is an interactive tool that customizes an image of the $100 bill and let’s users share their suggestions.

Learn about distinguished Canadian women in the timeline below:

Inspiring quotes by powerful women. Watch the video below:


Correction: This article was originally published Dec. 9 and incorrectly stated that councillors Mary Fragedakis and Marvin Rotrand began the petition when in actuality it was historian Merna Forster.

About this article

By: Marcus Medford
Copy editor: Daniel Goldsmith
Posted: Dec 12 2015 12:19 pm
Filed under: News