Merna Forster, author who helped convince the Bank of Canada to feature women on bank notes, visits Sudbury

For the past four years, Merna Forster has been lobbying the Bank of Canada to include the images on prominent Canadian women on bank notes.

Merna Forster was told it was 'premature' to put a Canadian woman on bank notes

The Bank of Canada has released its list of 12 names who are in the running to be the first Canadian woman featured on a banknote. (Bank of Canada)

For the past four years, Merna Forster has been lobbying the Bank of Canada to include the images on prominent Canadian women on bank notes. 

After years of writing op-eds and letters to the Bank of Canada, Forster began a petition that picked up steam in 2013.

What was surprising to Forster was at first, the bank offered some questionable excuses for why it couldn't be done.

"[The bank said] it was premature to commit to women on bank notes," Forster said.

Even her letters to Members of Parliament didn't draw much attention.

"I wrote a letter to every Member of Parliament," Forster said. "Only a handful of people answered."

But MPs changed their tone when they saw 73,000 signatures on her petition, Forster said.

An Angus-Reid poll conducted in May 2016 shows 80 per cent of respondents want women featured on Canadian bank notes.

Once the movement gained steam, the question turned from "should we feature Canadian women on bank notes?" to "who should we feature?"

To start the process, the Bank of Canada created an advisory council to solicit nominations for who should appear on the bills. 

Forster sat on the council, which sifted through 26,000 submissions.

After carefully considering and debating the submissions, the council selected a shortlist of 12 Canadian women who may be named to the bill.

The Minister of Finance has the final say on whose face will be represented. The Bank of Canada will issue the note in late 2018.

October is women's history month in Canada and the woman spearheading efforts to get Canadian heroines on our currency is in Sudbury. We spoke to Merna Forster the writer, historian, and public speaker. 7:37


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.