‘Asian-Looking’ Woman Causes Re-draft of Canada’s New $100 Bill

The new polymer version of Canada’s $100 bill was sent back to the drawing board after focus groups commented on the ‘Asian-looking’ woman on the back of the bill. The woman was depicted looking into a microscope, with a small bottle of insulin in front of it. The focus groups apparently thought that depicting an Asian woman was too stereotypical. They also thought that more ethnicities should be represented.

As a result of these comments, the woman on the bill, which was actually an altered photo of a South Asian woman, was changed to appear more “ethnically neutral.” In other words, she now appears to be Caucasian, which critics pointed out is not a ‘neutral ethnicity,’ it’s just the one that happens to be dominant in this country, though the population is shifting. This ‘neutral ethnicity’ is apparently a policy of the Bank of Canada, despite the wide variety of ethnicities across the country.

The governor of the Bank of Canada apologized after the change became news. Mark Carney said that in the future, Canada’s currency will show more diversity.

This is the second time Canada’s new polymer bills have caused controversy. Focus groups looking at the new $20 bill and saw the World Trade Center towers (actually the Vimy Memorial in France which commemorates Canada’s role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge) and also commented on the bare-breasted female statues that are part of the memorial.

Vimy Memorial, Photo by Amanda Slater

A marketing professor suggested that the reaction to the change on the $100 bill might show that it’s best for the Bank of Canada to avoid depictions of any person on their currency, save for historical figures in this case it would logically be Sir Frederick Banting, the Canadian inventor of insulin. Ken Wong told the Financial Post “The moment they decided to depict only one person, they left themselves open to complaints about failing to recognize diversity.”

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Photo Credit: peta_azak


Stanley Rampersad
Stanley Balgobin4 years ago

The GOP has plans to remove all photos of Obama from Federal Buildings, 1st day in Office for the RobME/LyanRyan duo.

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim4 years ago

Why do people care so much what ethnicity the person on the bill is. They're going to waste a lot of time and money to change all that.

Jessica Larsen
Janne O.4 years ago

*within their own group, I mean, which makes it more neutral looking

Jessica Larsen
Janne O.4 years ago

“In other words, she now appears to be Caucasian, which critics pointed out is not a ‘neutral ethnicity,’ it’s just the one that happens to be dominant in this country”

First of all, the country in question is Canada, a mostly caucasian country, so of course the bill should reflect that! You wouldn’t expect to find Caucasians or Orientals on an African bill, would you?
Second, yes Caucasian is the most neutral look. And it’s not an ethnicity, it’s a race. In the US people tend to think that Caucasian means white. It doesn’t. Caucasian is the facial features seen in Europe and parts of Asia. The Negroid and Oriental races both have black or very dark brown hair, one curly only, the other straight, and brown eyes. The Negroid race also has characteristic nose and lips, and somewhat light to very dark skin, while Orientals have yellow to brown skin. The Caucasian race consist of everything from very pale skin to brown, and all natural hair colours as well as curly, wavy or straight hair, and 4 different eye colours. Caucasians definitely differ more in looks.

Anders S.
Anders S.4 years ago

Why spend millions on printing money at all?
I live in Norway, and I can hardly remember when I last used paper money. Everybody use VISA.

Parvez Zuberi
Parvez Zuberi4 years ago

They have nothing to do so to keep them self busy find some stupid thing to argue which is worth less instead of doing some constructive work

Rene H.
Irene H.4 years ago

I would prefer places, animals or historical monuments on the money over people.

Samantha C.
Samantha C.4 years ago

Another thing I find ironic. I am Canadian, okay. We are always reminded how as Canadians we are multi-cultural. So why is anyone up in arms about whether the image looks Asian, or not?

Samantha C.
Samantha C.4 years ago

Does that mean the original unaltered image is now worth more to collectors? Cause they are the only ones who care about something so trivial.

Nimue Pendragon

I would have thought they would naturally have a Canadian on the Canadian $100 bill in the first place. Currency is not about "ethnic diversity", it's money for goodness sake. Put something on it that's unique to your country.