It was 2 years ago (January 2020) that a call went out to nominate iconic Canadians to appear on our next $5 banknote, and it was 14 months ago (November 2020) that a shortlist of 8 candidates was released.
Selecting a single individual, as was the case for Viola Desmond and the $10 banknote, can be a very challenging task, with so many worthy candidates.
So to help move things along, I’d like to offer the following suggestion to Finance Minister Chrystia Freedland and her advisers at the Bank of Canada and the Department of Finance:
To select Terry Fox, Lotta Hitschmanova and Isapo-muxika (Crowfoot) to appear together on our next $5 banknote.
All three are iconic figures coming from different periods in Canadian history. Each carries a different aspect of the Canadian story (indigenous, refugee, settler); while together, their life’s work offers the hope of a caring and reconciliatory spirit for generations to come.
Crowfoot (c. 1830-1890) “was known for his judicious use of diplomacy and for being an advocate for peace between Indigenous nations and with settlers. He was instrumental in the Treaty 7 negotiations, and in preventing the Blackfoot Confederacy from participating in the North-West Resistance of 1885. Later in life, he also fostered peace with neighbouring Indigenous peoples.” His life was memorialized in Willie Dunn’s powerful 1968 NFB film (the NFB’s first Indigenous-directed film), “The Ballad of Crowfoot.”
Coming from different backgrounds and supporting different causes — for Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990), it was international development and social justice, and for Terry Fox (1958-1981), it was raising awareness for cancer research — they became, arguably, Canada’s two greatest fundraisers.
Each defied the odds in making their mark on Canadian society. Terry battled through his cancer to inspire so many others through his Marathon of Hope. While Lotta lost her parents in the Holocaust, arrived in Canada as a penniless WWII refugee and spent the rest of her life mobilizing Canadians to care for people in far off lands, to take action and to help.
What better way to celebrate our rich history – as well as to further develop a caring and reconciliatory spirit for the coming decades – than to include all three iconic figures on our next $5 bill.
What a marvelous idea!