The Bank of Canada had decided to de-Asianize the original image of a woman looking into a microscope for its $100 banknote after 8 focus groups across the country raised questions about her ethnicity.
“The image, alongside a bottle of insulin, was meant to celebrate Canada’s medical innovations.”
Despite the Bank of Canada’s policy that “eschews depictions of ethnic groups on banknotes”, a particular ethnicity seemed to emerge amongst the focus groups. Not surprising, the Toronto groups felt it represented diversity or multiculturalism where as Quebec felt that “the inclusion of an Asian without representing any other ethnicities was seen to be contentious.” A person in Fredericton called it ugly. Similar to Atlanta’s Gold/Yellow line, some felt that it was a stereotype for such a depiction of achievements in science and technology to be a representation of wealth on the $100 banknote to be that of an Asian.
Taking into consideration all sides, I would lean towards there being more positives than negatives to having someone of a seeming Asian ethnicity on a banknote. I will give some credence to Quebec’s inclusion of all ethnicities since the image was perceived as Asian. I wouldn’t call it ugly, just boring. When it comes down to it, people would eventually get over it, so I don’t exactly get why the Bank of Canada a) needed to do a focus group and b) cared enough to change it since the image was not intended to depict any ethnicity.
Do I believe it’s a step back? Yes. Do I care overall? No. It’s not like I regularly get and hold onto $100 banknotes, nor do I fawn over and/ or frame like an art piece. It however would be a source of pride to have such an unintended representation on a Canadian banknote for the 5 mins I may be holding onto one.
The other oddity is, with the bottle of insulin included in the banknote, why couldn’t they just have an image of Banting and Best?