Lotta on a banknote, or a stamp?

NB: a longer version of this article was published on April 6, 2016 by the Canadian Unitarian Council.

Let’s put a refugee to Canada on one of our banknotes

“Please give generously to the Unitarian Service Committee, 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa 4.”

If you can remember hearing these words way back in the mists of time, then I suspect you may have an ingrained awareness of why putting a refugee to Canada on one of our banknotes might be an idea worth considering.

As is well known, the Bank of Canada is committed to putting a woman’s image on one of our banknotes. It is my belief that, come 2018, humanitarian pioneer Lotta Hitschmanova, CC (1909-1990) would be the ideal person to appear on one of these banknotes (and the Bank has included her on its long list of 12 candidates).

Not because she was a woman, but because of her national and international impact and legacy, on its own terms. And because her image was, and is iconic, instantly recognizable, a valuable characteristic for a banknote image – and a symbol for all that is good about Canada and Canadian society.

Dr. Lotta was a refugee to Canada who literally changed our country for the better, making us a more caring and compassionate society.

In an era before 24-hour newscasts, she brought the stories of people in need around the world into our living rooms, community halls and church basements across the country. She made people care about their “neighbours” far away, and became a Canadian ambassador for peace around the world.

She was Canada’s Mother Teresa, our 20th century “saint,” and perhaps the most recognizable Canadian woman in the 1940s through to the 1980s.

She would be an ideal person to grace one of our banknotes, I believe, and with her unique uniform, be instantly recognizable as a symbol for good, by hundreds of thousands, both here in Canada and abroad.

UPDATE: The Bank of Canada did not in the end include Lotta on its short list of banknote candidates, I believe her time will come one day. What do you think? Perhaps a Lotta stamp?

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