News / Toronto

Why are there no Canadian women on our money? Toronto councillor calls for change

Mary Fragedakis adds her voice to a national campaign calling for female faces on dollar notes


Coun. Mary Fragedakis doesn’t understand why there are no Canadian women featured on our money.

And she’s joining a movement to right what she considers a big wrong.

“Canadian women have added so much to Canadian life, yet we have a poor representation on Canadian money,” said the Ward 29 councillor who’s adding her voice to the national call for more female faces on currency.

She’s hoping to recruit some support from Toronto City Hall.

Fragedakis will introduce a council motion on Wednesday asking that the city formally request action from the Bank of Canada. Montreal passed a similar motion earlier this year, and Oakville is considering the idea, she said.

The issue’s actually been in the public spotlight for a while. Canadian historian Morna Foster launched a campaign in 2013 urging the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Canada to represent women on bank notes. An online petition has been signed by about 56,000 people.

“Our society here is based on multiculturalism, inclusion and diversity,” Fragedakis said. “With women making up about half of the entire population, we should definitely honour them for their contribution to our society.”

Some countries around the world have done a better job of recognizing women’s contributions via currency. They include the UK, New Zealand, Japan, Norway, Argentina and South Korea, among others.

Canada did have a $50 bill featuring images of Alberta women known as the Famous 5, but they were replaced in 2011 by an icebreaker.

“I’m not really sure why we think an icebreaker is a more appropriate thing to have on our money than women,” she said. “There’s probably a rationale, but I don’t really understand it.”

Fragedakis isn’t campaigning for any person in particular to be represented. She, did, however note that women like Agnes Macphail – the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons – and Adrienne Clarkson – former governor general – would be great candidates.

Canada has celebrated women’s history month every October since 1992, and Fragedakis said it’s “only fitting that we should be discussing this issue now."

More on