Merna Forster Wins GG Award for Work to Promote Women in History

Merna Forster Wins GG Award for Work to Promote Women in History

Posted on October 26 by Kyle in Awards
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October 20, 2016 ― The woman who led the successful national campaign to have women depicted on Canadian money has been awarded the 2016 Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media (Pierre Berton Award). Merna Forster’s campaign resulted in a petition of more than 73,000 names and a commitment from the prime minister to feature a woman from Canadian history on bank notes in 2018.

Forster is also the author of 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces (2004) and 100 More Canadian Heroines (2011), and the force behind the website She says there remains a huge gap in knowledge about important Canadian women. “In 2004, when CBC ran a contest to identify the greatest Canadian, the top 10 were all men. In 2015, when Canadian Heritage surveyed 12,000 Canadians to identify the top 10 Canadian heroes, the list was again all men. So things haven’t changed very much.”

Forster began her campaign to include women on Canadian bank notes in 2013, after the only Canadian females on our currency (activist Thérèse Casgrain and the “Famous Five,” who fought for constitutional recognition of women as persons) were replaced by an icebreaker.

“The images and symbols that surround us contribute to our view of the world and our potential role in it,” she says. “The faces of notable women on bank notes or statues are important. They inspire girls and women and demonstrate to all that the contributions of women are recognized— that HERstory matters.”

In addition to being a writer and historian, Forster is also an educator and genealogist. She is well known for her media commentary, and has helped promote the history of Canadian women through public presentations as well as numerous interviews for radio, television, online and print media. She currently works at the University of Victoria as Executive Director of the “Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History” project. She will be presented her award by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, at Rideau Hall on November 28.

The Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media (also known as the Pierre Berton Award) was created in 1994 to celebrate those who have brought Canadian history to a wider audience and was named after its first recipient, popular author and historian Pierre Berton. In its 20-plus years, the award has recognized individuals and organizations that have helped popularize Canadian history through mediums such as publications, film, radio, television, theatre, or the web. The award is administered by Canada’s History, a national charitable organization whose mission is to promote greater popular interest in Canadian history. Learn more at


To book an interview with Merna Foster, please contact:

Jaclyn Hodsdon, Publicist

416-214-5544 x234; jhodsdon [at] dundurn [nospam] com