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With exception of the Queen, women have largely been unrepresented on Canada's bank notes, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said.

The Canadian Press

Attention Canada: The Bank of Canada wants your help in choosing an "iconic" Canadian woman to put on its next series of banknotes.

And forget astronaut Roberta Bondar, Anne of Green Gables and politician Ellen Fairclough, the first female federal cabinet minister, who died in 2004. Nominees must be dead at least 25 years and can't be fictional.

They must also have been Canadian (by birth or naturalization) and have shown "outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, benefiting the people of Canada, or in the service of Canada," the Bank of Canada said on Tuesday – International Women's Day – as it launched consultations.

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Likely front-runners include feminist Nellie McClung, first female MP Agnes Macphail, physician Jennie Trout, War of 1812 heroine Laura Secord, painter Emily Carr and authors Margaret Laurence and Gabrielle Roy.

The new banknotes are slated to be released in 2018. A Bank of Canada spokesperson said no decision has been made on which bill would feature a woman.

"In our country's nearly 150-year history, women, with the notable exception of the Queen, have largely been unrepresented on our bank notes," Finance Minister Bill Morneau said. "In 2018, we will bring real change to a new generation of women who will carry with them constant reminders that they are not only Canada's future, but a celebrated part of our history."

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said the new bill would be a cultural touchstone that would "inspire future generations to learn more about the contributions women have made to our country."

Canadians can make their picks on the central bank's website and lobby for their favourites on Twitter with the hashtag #bankNOTEable. The nominations close on April 15.

The Bank of England recently selected 19th-century novelist Jane Austen to ensure that its banknotes depicted at least one historical female figure.

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