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Canada Prepares To Announce First Woman Featured On Bank Note


Earlier this year, the U.S. Treasury announced it added Harriet Tubman to our $20 bills and will add other women to the $5 and $10 notes. Now our neighbor to the north is doing something similar.


Canada plans to put a well-known Canadian woman on its money in two years. The announcement of exactly who it will be and on what denomination her picture will appear is scheduled for Thursday. The Bank of Canada asked all Canadians to nominate women in March.

BARBARA CROW: When the bank sent out a call asking for nominations, over 20,000 names came in. And people nominated their sisters, their mothers, their favorite aunts.

CORNISH: That's professor Barbara Crow of York University in Toronto. She helped facilitate the selection process. It took six months to narrow the public's choices down.

CROW: And it was very intense. We had a number of weekends that the Advisory Council came together to review the nominations and to put forward a set of recommendations to the Bank of Canada.

CORNISH: Now there are five final candidates. What they have in common is that they've been dead for at least 25 years and made some contribution to Canadian society.

SHAPIRO: And they're women.

CORNISH: We suspect the short list would draw blanks from most citizens of the USA.

CROW: Viola Desmond...

SHAPIRO: A black businesswoman-turned civil libertarian who in 1946 defied whites-only segregation in a Nova Scotia movie theater.

CROW: ...Pauline Johnson...

CORNISH: A poet of Aboriginal heritage who celebrated her people.

CROW: ...Elsie Gregory Macgill...

SHAPIRO: The first woman in Canada to receive a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering.

CROW: ...Bobbie Rosenfeld...

CORNISH: She held Canadian records in the running and standing broad jump and the discus and...

CROW: ...Idola Saint-Jean...

SHAPIRO: A feminist and pioneer in the fight for suffrage in Quebec.

CORNISH: The finance minister has final say over whose picture goes on the paper money and exactly which bill. That's likely to leave many Canadians disappointed their own picks won't make the cut.

CROW: I'll tell you. The Bank of Canada had no idea how amazingly popular and how engaged Canadian citizens would be around having a woman on the bank note.

SHAPIRO: Of course no matter who gets chosen, there is one woman already on Canadian money, and she will remain - Queen Elizabeth II. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.