A Guide to Women in Canadian History

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Hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, Reuters Photo.
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News Archives 2016

List of 12 for Canadian Women on Bank Notes
April 29, 2016

The Bank of Canada released a list of 12 Canadian women being considered for the new bank notes in the series that will be launched in 2018. During a recent public consulation process, more than 26,000 people submitted nominations. A total of 460 Canadian women met the selection criteria. A national advisory council created by the Bank of Canada then reviewed the list of nominees.

The "Long List" includes Pitseolak Ashoona, Emily Carr, Thérèse Casgrain, Viola Desmond, Lotta Hitschmanova, E. Pauline Johnson, Elizabeth MacGill, Nellie McClung, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Fanny (Bobbie) Rosenfeld, Gabrielle Roy, and Idola Saint-Jean.

The Bank of Canada will now proceed with a a public opinion survey regarding the dozen nominees. One iconic Canadian woman will be selected to appear on the face of a new note in 2018. More information on the selection process is available on the Bank of Canada website.

Canadian bank notes
Bank of Canada image

Victory for Canadian Women on Bank Notes Campaign
March 8, 2016

On International Women's Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that an iconic Canadian woman will be featured on the a new bank note in 2018. The bill will be the first in the next series issued by the Bank of Canada.

Merna Forster led the national campaign which persuaded decision makers to take action on this important symbolic issue. In July 2013, she launched a petition at change.org calling for Canadian women on bank notes. A total of 73,185 people signed the petition during the long campaign. Men and women across the country signed, including authors Margaret Atwood and Charlotte Gray, activist Judy Rebick, actresses Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Dale, poet Lorna Crozier, and journalists Catherine Clarke and Shelagh Rogers. Forster wrote hundreds of letters, emails and tweets to MPs, Bank of Canada officials, notable Canadians, activists, historians, educators and journalists. An interactive tool to create bills featuring contenders for bank notes received hundreds of submissions. The successful campaign attracted extensive media attention since Forster launched it in 2013, but success was a long-time coming.

While the Bank of Canada has committed to celebrating one iconic Canadian woman on the next series, Australia and Sweden have gender parity on their bills. Many countries around the world have long celebrated one or two heroines on their notes, including Turkey, Venezuela, Columbia, Serbia,Peru, Mexico, and Japan. These countries honour women who were freedom fighters, poets and journalists, musicians, social workers, business women, etc.

The Bank of Canada launched a public consultation process for selection of the Canadian who will appear on a bill. Proposals can be submitted until April 15, 2016 at the Bank of Canada website.

Canadian bank notes


Victorian launches drive to see women on Canada's bills, July 2013

Canadian woman will be on next series of bank notes, Trudeau announces

2018 bank note to feature a woman, to delight of advocate

It’s not about the money, it’s about the misogyny: Porter

Minister of Finance responds to petitioners

Merna Forster congratulates and thanks petitioners

Heritage Minute for Viola Desmond
February 1, 2016

As Canada celebrates Black History Month, Historica Canada released a new Heritage Minute about civil rights icon Viola Desmond. A policeman dragged the Halifax businesswoman out of a theatre in 1946, after she refused to move to a section reserved for non-whites. Desmond's courageous defiance of racial discrimination inspired others. Watch Viola Desmond in the Heritage Minutes Collection.

Viola Desmond stamp
Canada Post stamp honouring Viola Desmond

Gender-Balance in Federal Cabinet
November 4, 2015

For the first time in Canadian history, the cabinet of the federal government of Canada included an equal number of women and men. Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, became Prime Minister of Canada, and his new cabinet included 15 women and 15 men.

Liberal Government Cabinet 2015

Woman on the Waterfront: Halifax
Nov. 3, 2015

The Halifax Women's History Society (HWHS) has launched a national campaign for the first monument to women in Halifax.

Women on the Waterfront Halifax The HWHS is honoring the work of women volunteers during the Second World War by launching a project to erect a monument on the Halifax waterfront.

"There are no monuments to actual women in history in Halifax and very few in Canada," says HWHS Chair Janet Guildford. "We want to begin to correct this imbalance in public art by honoring the astounding amount of volunteer work done by women during the Second World War.

"There are more than 100 statutes, cairns and plaques in Halifax. Fewer than a dozen are of women, and most of them are from mythology," says Guildford. "We are launching a campaign to change this with our Woman on the Waterfront (WOW) project."

Using the tagline, "It's Time for a Woman on the Waterfront," the project's goal is to place the monument, The Volunteers/Les Bénévoles, near the busy walkway on the Halifax waterfront. It has already secured a location from the Port of Halifax and near the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market.

The launch of the WOW campaign, on Oct. 29, marks a fund-raising effort. The Society has a lead gift of $100,000 from an anonymous donor and hopes to raise another $650,000. It aims to unveil the monument in 2017.

During the First and Second World Wars, women gave hours of volunteer service. They provided nursing care, respite and hospitality. They worked, often unpaid, for national organizations such as the Red Cross, the St. John Ambulance and the IODE. They organized canteens, cooked and served thousands of meals, made bandages and surgical dressings, knitted scarves and mittens, made quilts, arrange blood donor drives, collected salvage and raised money — all in support of the war effort.

For more information on the Society and its Woman on the Waterfront project, go to: http://halifaxwomenshistory.ca/

For more information:
Mary Somers
Communication Chair
HWHS and WOW Project
902 2092970M


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