The Famous Five with Mackenzie King in 1938 (Photo: Library and Archives Canada)
At the moment, none of Canada's bank notes feature images of Canadian women. A new petition on activist website Change.org asks the Bank of Canada to put "women from Canadian history on our bills."
The petition, which was launched by historian and author Merna Forster from Victoria, B.C., makes reference to the Bank of England's decision to remove reformer Elizabeth Fry from the £5 note and replace her with Winston Churchill. After a campaign in the U.K., Bank of England head Mark Carney announced in July that Jane Austen will replace Charles Darwin on the £10 note starting in 2016 or 2017.
The last version of the $50 bill featured an image of The Famous Five and Thérèse Casgrain (the women who, in 1927, asked the Supreme Court of Canada to answer the question "does the word 'Persons' in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?").
The Bank of Canada stopped making those bills in 2011, when it introduced a new, polymer $50 bill to replace the previous paper version. Along with the change in materials, the imagery on the bill also shifted — the new bill features an image of an icebreaker in place of the women.
So far, the petition has received more than 6,000 signatures, and some high-profile support in the form of a tweet from Margaret Atwood.
The petition doesn't specify which Canadian woman or women should be honoured. Forster said in a statement that she'd like to see "someone that Canadian women and young girls especially can look up to. It would be wonderful to see one of the less well known Canadian heroines as well."
"We have a tendency to refer always to the Famous Five or Laura Secord," she continued, "but there are many, many other Canadian women whose accomplishments are under-represented and are deserving of our recognition."
Which Canadian women would you like to see on our bank notes?