Faculty of Graduate Studies Dean Barbara Crow’s place in Canadian history

History is made every day, but it’s not often a person gets a chance to make history.

Barbara Crow
Barbara Crow

For  Professor Barbara Crow, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and associate vice-president graduate at York University, the opportunity to make history arrived with her appointment as an expert panel member to facilitate public consultation for nominations for a new banknote featuring an iconic Canadian woman that will be issued in 2018.

Crow and Queen’s University political science Professor Jonathan Rose are the first to be appointed as expert panelists to work with an Advisory Council that will be composed of eminent Canadian academic, cultural and thought leaders who will consider nominations for the next face on a Canadian banknote. The effort to find Canada’s next “BANK notable” woman and their appointments were announced on March 8, International Women’s Day, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau.

Crow said she is delighted to be working with Rose. “We are the experts who will facilitate the advisory council’s recommendation to the Governor of the Bank of Canada,” she said. “Professor Rose’s expertise is in public consultations and mine is in the women’s movement and women’s studies.

“It’s fantastic and I am so excited,” said Crow. “I cannot believe that I am going to participate in such a major event in women’s history. The announcement of woman on a Canadian banknote is very symbolic and it signals the important role of women in Canada. This is the first ever public committee considering the face on the next banknote. It is also the first time in 150 years that a Canadian woman will appear on a banknote,” she said.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has said he is a feminist prime minister and what he is doing with this initiative is creating a space for legitimacy for women’s equality,” said Crow. “This is a vehicle for the kinds of conversations around equality that are important to have.”

Women have played an important role in building Canada said Crow. She hopes the resulting banknote will be the first of many.

When the news broke of her appointment, Crow said colleagues, family and friends were quick to make suggestions including, author Lucy Maud Montgomery, parliamentarian Agnes Macphail and actress Mary Pickford. Others she’s received include Dr. Maude Menten, who is the first woman to graduate from a Canadian medical school, Quebec politician and feminist Thérèse Casgrain, slave Marie-Joseph Angélique and Mary Two-Axe Earley, a Mohawk from Kahnawake, Quebec.

The women nominated must be Canadian (by birth or naturalization), have “demonstrated outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, benefiting the people of Canada, or in the service of Canada.” To be considered, the women nominated must be deceased for at least 25 years and not fictional characters. To nominate an iconic woman, use the nomination form on the Bank of Canada website.

More about Barbara Crow

In addition to being Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at York University, Barbara Crow is currently Chair of the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies, serves on the Board of the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies and the Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada. She is a past-president of the Canadian Women’s Studies Association. Crow has worked on a number of large-scale interdisciplinary grants with engineers, designers, artists and communication scholars to produce technical and cultural content for mobile experiences. She is one of the co-founders of the Mobile Media Lab and is the co-founding editor of wi: journal of mobile media.

By Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor