Petition to put women on Canadian banknotes draws nearly 50K signatures

A petition by historian Merna Forster to get Canadian women depicted on banknotes has attracted nearly 50,000 signatures, with many more suggesting ideas of who should receive the honour.

Inuk artist Kenojuak Ashevak is just one of several aboriginal women suggested

A petition by historian Merna Forster to get Canadian women depicted on banknotes is just short of its goal of 50,000 signatures.

It’s also received many suggestions of just who to put on the banknotes thanks to a handy app that allows users to submit their ideas, and see the person’s image on a $100 bill. 

Forster started her campaign when the Bank of Canada introduced its new polymer bank notes, which replaced the only images of Canadian women — the Famous Five, who fought for women’s rights in Canada and Therese Casgrain, a Quebec feminist — with an image of an icebreaker.

"My Canada includes women and I think it's important to celebrate them along with male historical figures,” Forster says.

Among the ideas suggested are Kenojuak Ashevak, the celebrated Inuk artist from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, and Tookoolito, another Inuk woman who served as a guide and interpreter for several Arctic expeditions, including Charles Frances Hall’s search for Sir John Franklin.

Also suggested are singer/songrwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, aboriginal rights activist Mary Two-Axe Early, the Inuk artist Pitseolak Ashoona and Desmasduit, one of the last of the Beothuks.

“They don't just want all these old white men,” Forster says of her petitioners. “They want to see aboriginal women and a diversity of ethnicities shown on these notes.”

The petition aims to get the Bank of Canada to commit to featuring women from Canadian history on banknotes.

Forster has been in touch with the Bank of Canada.

So far, they have declined to make that commitment.