The Next Canadian Banknote Will Feature A Woman, Announces Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Because Heck Yes, Gender Equality
International Women's Day was celebrated on March 8, spawning a surge in stories, post, pictures and more honoring inspiring ladies the world over. And Canada's famously feminist prime minister, Justin Trudeau, seized the moment to make an important announcement in that spirit: The next new Canadian banknote will feature a woman — an iconic Canadian woman, to be precise, and the Bank of Canada is inviting the public to nominate women from Canada's past who are deserving of this recognition.
It goes without saying that this is a big deal. While it may seem like a small step in the grander scope of world events, having women featured on currency representing the country from which they hail is a logical step in gender equality and one that for many countries (cough, America, cough) is long overdue. In fact, there exists a virtual league of developed countries that have given ladies their rightful spots on banknotes. The U.K. and Sweden, for example, are rapidly approaching 50/50 gender representation on their currency. New Zealand and Norway are well on their way to gender parity on printed notes, too. Canada will now be joining this league of progressive countries. (Though, in her role as the country's current head of state, the face of Queen Elizabeth II already appears on the $20 note, the new banknote would be in addition to that existing one.)
Given PM Trudeau's recent impassioned essay on gender equality as a "core Canadian value," it's unsurprising the leader would take pride in bringing his country's currency, well, current. To make the historic announcement, Trudeau took to Twitter to post a call-to-action for nominations.
It's important to point out that although Canada's $20 note does already feature a woman, it does not feature a Canadian woman. Such is a distinction that has courted its fair share of controversy, most recently being the subject of a "Women On Canadian Banknotes" petition that gained quite a bit of traction in 2014. This came in response to the Bank of Canada discontinuing the $50 note featuring images of the Famous Five — a group of Alberta women who fought to have females recognized as actual persons under the constitution — and renowned activist and feminist Thérèse Casgrain. Despite being heralded during a ceremony in Calgary in 2004, during which the note was unveiled, the bill was later replaced by a new polymer featuring... an icebreaker.
With any luck, the new banknote featuring an iconic Canadian woman will stick. The recommendations are already being tossed out on Trudeau's Twitter feed, ranging from Arcade Fire singer Régine Chassagne to former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion. One thing's for sure, though — based on qualifying factors alone, Trudeau's other "mother," Kim Cattrall, won't make the short list, no matter how fetching she looks on a Canadian banknote.