Merna Forster

Recipient of the 2016 Governor General's History Award for Popular Media: The Pierre Berton Award

November 28, 2016

Canada's History speaks with Merna Forster about the importance of Canadian "herstory."

Victoria (British Columbia)

Merna Forster led the successful national campaign to have women depicted on Canadian money. Her campaign resulted in a petition of more than 73,000 names and a commitment from the prime minister to feature a woman from Canadian history on bank notes in 2018. Forster is also the author of 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces (2004) and 100 More Canadian Heroines (2011), and the force behind the website heroines.ca. Forster began her campaign to include women on Canadian bank notes in 2013, after the only female faces on our currency (“The Famous Five,” who were involved in having women recognized as persons under the Constitution of 1867) were replaced by an icebreaker. “When girls see all around them statues and images of men, that contributes to their understanding of the world and their place in it,” she says. “So symbols like images of women on bank notes are important. They inspire girls, in the same way that female premiers across Canada inspire us.” In addition to being a writer and historian, Forster is also an educator and naturalist. She currently works at the University of Victoria as Executive Director of the “Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History” project.

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