On Tuesday the Moncton Times & Transcript ran an editorial
about how we should include more female Canadians on our
currency. I agree. Canadians are a talented bunch and
Canadian women equally so. What bothers me is the editorial
seemed to dance around the Queen's presence on the $20 bill.
woman, seemed unwilling in any way to say she is a Canadian.
This is not an isolated view. Merna Forster, author of
heroines.ca, takes a similar stance stating "There are
currently no real women from Canadian history honoured
on any Canadian bank notes."
This got me thinking about what it actually means to be a
Canadian. Is it the legalistic possession of citizenship? Is it the
happenstance of being born here? Is it the mere act of living
within Canada's borders? Or is it something else? Let us look
at each of these questions as they relate to Canadian women.
"But the Queen doesn't have Canadian Citizenship!"
Neither did three of the Famous Five since Emily Murphy,
Louise McKinney, and Henrietta Muir Edwards died before
the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1946. Or, for that matter any
of the Canadian women before that. It is not that the Queen's
lack of Canadian citizenship is a result of her having another
citizenship. Her Majesty in fact has NO citizenship (and
travels with a diplomatic passport). This is both to avoid
favouring any of her realms and due to certain legalities of
being the embodiment a country. And it seems rather odd
for Canadians to focus on Her Majesty's lack of citizenship
when we do not think any less of Canadians having dual-
"She wasn't born here!"
Returning to the Famous Five we have Mary Irene Parlby who
was born in England. Nor was Laura Secord and many other
famous Canadian women. A little more than 20% of Canadians were not born on Canadian soil. We have many
new Canadian women who were born elsewheres. Is it right to
consider the Queen to not be Canadian on this basis?
"She doesn't live here!"
Canada has a long tradition of its people living, working, and
retiring outside the country. Sometimes they are away for
extended periods and only returning to Canada for short
homecomings. Emmanuelle Sophie Anne Chriqui, Anna
Paquin, and Carrie Anne Moss are all Canadians that live and
work in the USA.
And then you have Kim Victoria Cattrall who was a) not
born in Canada and b) does not live in Canada and c) has both
Canadian and British citizenship. I think she would be highly
offended if anyone implied she is less of a Canadian than her
It is also clear that the Queen does considers herself to be a
Canadian. In 1983 Her Majesty remarked that "I am going
home to Canada tomorrow" as she left California. Earlier in
1978 she noted that "I am getting to know our country rather
Or even earlier in 1951 when the young princess remarked
"From the moment when I first set foot on Canadian soil, the
feeling of strangeness went, for I knew myself to be not only
amongst friends, but amongst fellow countrymen."
And in 2010 the Queen reaffirmed this:
"As proud and grateful Canadians, we pause today to mark not only the ninety-
third anniversary of this nation’s victory at Vimy Ridge but also to pay tribute to
the passing of a truly remarkable generation who helped to end the most terrible
conflict the world had ever known[….] This tremendous sacrifice can rightly be
regarded as a defining moment in the history of Canada and is one which we will
never forget. And now, they are gone –and all Canadians mourn our collective loss.
Yet they will remain forever etched in the hearts of a grateful people and on the
pages of our history as symbols of service, honour and dedication. In our minds and
in our hearts always, we will remember them."
Further, I think it is clear we should too. After all, the measure of a Canadian is in their heartfelt commitment to the
betterment of our country. It is in serving your neighbours
and community. It is doing your duty in good times and bad.
The Queen does all these things and more. Her Majesty has
spent her reign trying to bring Canadians together, traveling
the country, learning more about this great country of ours,
and encouraging people to do their best. I'd argue she is no
less a Canadian than you or me. She may in fact be more
Canadian than some who can cling to the fact of having been
We have one Canadian women on our currency. We can, and
should look to include more. What we shouldn't do is start
denigrating one Canadian women in the process of trying to
get more attention for notable Canadian women and their
contributions to Canada.
A Kisaragi Colour