Canada picks its first-ever Bank NOTE-able woman

Viola Desmond, an icon of the human rights and freedoms movement in Canada, will become the first Canadian woman to ever feature on a regularly circulating bank note. Her portrait will be printed on a new $10 Bank of Canada note, expected in late 2018. The selection of Viola Desmond was the final step in the #bankNOTEable campaign to choose an iconic Canadian woman to appear on this new bank note.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen S. Poloz, in a release on the Bank of Canada’s website:

“It became clear that this search for an iconic woman was engaging Canadians in a very personal way.

Some people looked within their own profession: Engineers googled women engineers. Some of my economist colleagues searched for economists, computer scientists and statisticians. Some people looked at their alma maters—notable women of Queens, or Mount Allison or the University of British Columbia. Other people looked geographically, finding women who represented their part of the country. Teachers used the nomination process as a way to teach children about Canada’s history. School kids told us who they thought should be on the money.

With every mouse click or turn of a book’s page, with every kitchen table discussion or classroom debate, Canadians learned more about the women who built Canada.”

The Bank of Canada has, along with the Bank of Russia, become of the few central banks that have chosen to leverage the use of social media to let the general public have a say in the selection of a bank note design. Both provided useful case studies of how central banks may — at low costs — attract the attention of members of the general public to an issue concerning everyone's wallet, literally.