April 21, 2016 –Toronto The United States promises to feature a historic Canadian resident on its next $20 bill, something Canada, itself, has never done, but which is long overdue. Harriet Tubman, the famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad and who lived for eight years in St. Catharines, Ontario, will replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the new US $20 note. The Bank of Canada should feature a historic Canadian on its own $20 bill, and do so first.
“A Canadian has never been portrayed on our $20 note,” says Republic Now’s Wayne Adam. “That needs to change, and the government’s promise to feature a Canadian woman on a banknote is a chance to finally Canadianize the 20.”
The Bank has not indicated which denomination will feature a Canadian woman. To date, only monarchs from England have appeared on the $20 note. Elizabeth Windsor, as princess and queen, has appeared on eight of the nine $20 bill designs since 1935, when the bank was established.
The US is expected to circulate the Tubman banknote by 2021. The abolitionist brought hundreds out of slavery, and lived in Ontario from 1851 to 1858. “It would be embarrassing to have the United States honour a Canadian resident on its $20 bill before Canada does,” says Adam. “The Bank of Canada should do it first, putting the historic Canadian woman it chooses on the 20 in the next series, which starts in 2018.”
As the queen turns 90, we wish her a happy birthday, for there’s nothing personal in these efforts. Historic Canadians should simply appear on our coins, regular stamps, and the $20 note, no matter who occupies Buckingham Palace. Ultimately, giving Canada its own head of state would resolve these issues, and we urge the government to begin looking at options to do that.