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The CBC show Definitely Not the Opera has a great idea: let’s put a Canadian woman on the $20 bill.

Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

It’s something I have been pointing out for years, but for me, it was a problem that I didn’t know how to solve. It involves our currency, and no, I’m not commenting about the colour.

And at first I thought I was the only one who ever noticed, but now it’s nice to know that institutions like the CBC has also noticed.

While it seems that we have even honoured animals with esteemed positions on our currency, other than the Queen, we don’t have any women leaders on our money.

I mean, we even have an Indigenous woman as a saint for heaven’s sake (the first saint for the whole Western hemisphere is Indigenous woman St. Kateri Tekakwitha, born in 1656, died in 1680).

This why a CBC survey for the show DNTO with Sook-Yin Lee caught my attention. Their list contains the following women. You can vote at this link.  (I’m not sure why the website only lists the names of these women without even a short bio regarding who they were/are, all the definitions are courtesy of Wikipedia).

At the end, I have included the opinion of some of my friends if the choice is iffy. Trust me, these are some hard critics.

If you think the CBC is on the right track, but chose the wrong women, please add your suggestion to the comments below!

Nellie McClung (Feminist, women’s right to vote)

Born October 20, 1873, Died September 1, 1951. McClung was a Canadian feminist, politician, author, and social activist. She was a part of the social and moral reform movements prevalent in Western Canada in the early 1900s. In 1927, McClung and four other women: Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby, who together came to be known as “The Famous Five” (also called “The Valiant Five”), launched the “Persons Case,” contending that women could be “qualified persons” eligible to sit in the Senate.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that current law did not recognize them as such. However, the case was won upon appeal to the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council — the court of last resort for Canada at that time.

I know McClung was the leader of the pack, but I consider it almost unfair to single her out from the Valiant Five, since undoubtedly they supported each other through the fight, so I would actually change this entry to The Valiant Five.

Buffy Sainte-Marie (Indigenous singer, songwriter, activist)

Born 1941. Sainte-Marie is an Indigenous singer-songwriter, musician, composer, visual artist, educator, pacifist, and social activist. Throughout her career in all of these areas, her work has focused on issues of Indigenous people.

Her singing and writing repertoire also includes subjects of love, war, religion, and mysticism. In 1997 she founded the Cradleboard Teaching Project, an educational curriculum devoted to better understanding Native Americans.

Yes, her music spoke to a generation but when compared to someone who helped win the vote, that is like comparing Martin Luther King Jr. to Kanye West. She does get some points for being an activist, though really only her own generation knows that. Plus, she is susceptible to the white woman’s guilt vote.

Perdita Felicien (Track and field athelete)

Born August 29, 1980 in Pickering, Ontario. Felicien is a retired Canadian hurdler. She is a former world champion in the 100m hurdles and multiple medalist at both the indoor and outdoor world championships. She has won two silver medals at the Pan American Games in the event as well. The Canadian record in 100m hurdles was set in 2004 and continues to be held by Felicien today. She was the first Canadian woman to ever win a medal at the World Championships.

Her performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics! Truly heartbreaking. We’ve saw this before in Canadian athletes like Kurt Browning. She had a slight come back but never managed to live up to potential.

Margaret Atwood (author, literary critic)

Born November 18, 1939. Atwood is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once, and has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award several times, winning twice.

In 2001 she was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. She is also a founder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, a non-profit literary organization that seeks to encourage Canada’s writing community. Among innumerable contributions to Canadian literature, she was a founding trustee of the Griffin Poetry Prize.

Too many books with the same plot, accused of hogging Canadian arts grants.

Michaëlle Jean (Govenor General of Canada)

Born September 6, 1957. Jean is a Canadian stateswoman and former journalist who is the third and current Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, after succeeding Abdou Diouf in January 2015; she is the first woman to hold the position. From 2005 to 2010, Jean was Governor General of Canada, the 27th since Canadian Confederation.

Spending scandal, anyone?

I seriously can’t wait for the results. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a poll since the election.

A big thank you to my friends who shared their opinions with me about these famous Canadians. So don’t forget to vote!

And again, if you think there is a better choice than these five, please leave a note in the comment section.

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Krystalline Kraus

krystalline kraus is an intrepid explorer and reporter from Toronto, Canada. A veteran activist and journalist for, she needs no aviator goggles, gas mask or red cape but proceeds fearlessly...