US & Canada

Bank of Canada apologises for removing 'Asian' from bill

Canadian $100 bank note
Image caption The Bank of Canada says it intended for the scientist looking into the microscope to appear to be of a neutral ethnicity

The Bank of Canada has apologised for removing an image of an "Asian-looking" woman from the design of a new $100 bank note.

The woman featuring on the sample note's image was substituted for a Caucasian woman after focus groups complained.

The Bank of Canada said its designers had unintentionally created an image representing one ethnic group.

Critics said that the re-design of the note had been racist.

"I apologize to those who were offended - the Bank's handling of this issue did not meet the standards Canadians justifiably expect of us," a statement from Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said.

"We will be reviewing our design process in light of these events. Our bank notes belong to all Canadians, and the work we do at the Bank is for all Canadians."

Eight focus groups were shown design proposals for new $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 plastic bills.

Documents obtained by the Canadian Press suggest there were concerns over the representation of an Asian woman for the largest denomination, which was designed to celebrate Canada's medical advances.

"Some have concerns that the researcher appears to be Asian," said a 2009 report commissioned by the bank, according to CBC News.

"Some believe that it presents a stereotype of Asians excelling in technology and/or the sciences. Others feel that an Asian should not be the only ethnicity represented on the banknotes."

Bank spokesman Jeremy Harrison said in an interview modifications had been made to the design of the note based on the focus group's feedback.

The bank said that the image had been based on an original photograph of a South Asian woman.

Last week, May Lui, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Canadian National Council, accused the Bank of "caving in to the racist feedback".

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