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New $10 bank note unveiled to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday

Last Updated Apr 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm EDT

The Bank of Canada has unveiled a new commemorative $10 bank note to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation – and it will mark one of the few times Canadian woman and an indigenous Canadian have been featured on the country’s currency.

It is also just the fourth time in Canada’s history that a special, commemorative bank note has been produced.

The new, mostly purple polymer note “is intended to captivate our imagination and instill pride in what we, as a nation, have accomplished,” bank governor Stephen Poloz said as he revealed that the note was three years in the making.

“It celebrates the natural beauty and majesty of our land and some of the important parliamentarians who helped shape our great country.”

The front of the bill depicts the faces of four federal political figures the Bank says helped shape the country: Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Etienne Cartier, Agnes Macphail and James Gladstone.

Macphail, a champion of equality and human rights, was Canada’s first female member of Parliament. First elected in 1921, she later went on to provincial politics, winning a seat in the Ontario legislature in 1943.

The bank had already announced plans to put human rights activist Viola Desmond on the $10 bill later next year, making Desmond the Canadian first woman to grace a regularly circulating bank note.

Gladstone, known by his Blackfoot name Akay-na-muka, was a member of the Kainai, or Blood, First Nation who fought for indigenous rights. In 1958, he became the first person of First Nations origin to be named to the Senate.

The note marking the country’s 150th anniversary, to be released before summer, will be a commemorative and won’t replace the existing design.

Its front also carries images of Parliament’s Hall of Honour, the names of all the provinces and territories and a depiction of the Memorial Chamber Arch in the Peace Tower.

The arch includes a colour-shifting security feature designed to prevent counterfeiting. There are also maple leaves that appear to be 3D, but are flat to the touch.

On the back, a range of images capture the country’s diverse landscape, including the “Lions” or “Twin Sisters” mountains overlooking Vancouver, a Prairie wheat field, the Canadian Shield in Central Canada, Cape Bonavista on the East Coast and the Northern Lights.

The design also incorporates Inuit and Metis cultural elements, including a holographic reproduction of the “Owl’s Bouquet” stencil print created by Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak, who lived in Nunavut – the last territory to join Confederation, in 1999. An arrow sash pattern, an important Metis symbol, is woven though the overall design.

Poloz said the reverse of the bill was designed based on feedback from over 5,000 Canadians on what they wanted to see on the bill.

“All of those historical elements in the note’s design show why this year calls for a big celebration,” said Poloz.

The new note will be available June 1 when 40 million go into circulation.

Only three other commemorative bank notes have been issued in Canada. A $25 note was printed in 1935 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V. In 2015, the central bank released a special $20 note in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II as the longest-reigning sovereign in Canada’s modern era. A $1 bill was also issued in 1967 to mark Canada’s centennial year.

Editor’s Note: The Canadian Press erroneously reported Friday that a new commemorative $10 bank note to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation would mark the first time a Canadian woman has been featured on the country’s currency. In fact, politician Therese Casgrain and the Famous Five – a group of five Alberta women who fought for women to be declared as “persons” under Canadian law – were on the reverse side of the $50 bill from 2004 to 2011.

The story also said human rights activist Viola Desmond would become the first woman to grace a regularly circulating bank note next year. In fact, Desmond will be the first Canadian woman to be featured.