The Bank of Canada has released the shortlist of Canadians that are being considered to have their image inscribed on the new $5 polymer bills.
The shortlist was drawn from suggestions from about 45,000 Canadians. The Central Bank revealed that the names were selected based on five clear categories. They transformed Canada and Canadians for the better, they have a nationally recognised impact, their impact reflects Canadian values, they are solely Canadian and are known beyond their local/regional communities, and they had an impact which is relevant today.
The shortlisted names are:
Pitseolak Ashoona: (1904-1908) — 1983
Ashoona ranks among the first set of influential Inuit printmakers. She was was born while travelling to the south coast of Baffin Island from Québec’s Nunavik.
She gave birth to 17 children and that did not stop her from building a career as an artist that spanned beyond 25 years. She left thousands of drawings which include over 200 that have been made into prints behind.
She was inducted into the Royal Academy of Arts in 1974 and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1977.
Robertine Barry (Françoise): 1863 — 1910
Robertine was a journalist, publisher, author and feminist. She was also a founding member of Canadian Women’s Press Club.
She was hired at La Patrie, a newspaper of note, in 1891. While writing under the pen name Françoise, she wrote about a number of issues that were important to women at that time which include women’s suffrage, social justice, shelters for the poor, the elderly, and female victims of family violence and so on.
She became the first woman to lecture at the Québec City branch of the Institut canadien in 1899. In 1902 she launched her own, self funded, bi-monthly magazine: Le Journal de Françoise, which operated for seven years and published 500 writers.
She teamed up with 15 other female journalists to create the Canadian Women’s Press Club in 1904 and she was made elected Vice-President.
Binaaswi (Francis Pegahmagabow): 1888 — 1952
Francis was a band chief, local rights advocate and First World War hero who later became a vocal advocate for Indigenous rights and self-determination.
He partook in the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 and he was a great sniper that is credited with killing no fewer than 378 people and capturing 300 prisoners. Also, he fought at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the Battle of Passchendaele in November 1917.
Francis is one of the most highly decorated Indigenous soldiers in the military history of Canada. He received the Military Medal in 1916 and two bars for his bravery at Ypres , Passchendaele, Amiens and Second Battle of Arras.
Between 1921 and 1925, he served as the chief of the Parry Island Band and later served as a band councillor between 1933 and 1936 and he lobbied the prime minister and policy-makers to reform and improve the government’s treatment of Indigenous peoples during that time.
Won Alexander Cumyow: 1861 — 1955
Won Alexander Cumyow became the first known baby of Chinese parents that was born in Canada in 1861.
He started and completed his high school in Vancouver and went on to start a career as a court translator that could translate in English, Cantonese, Hakka and Chinook Jargon.
He voted in 1890 but the right was taken away from him in 1895 when the provincial government cancelled the right to vote via a series of legal moves. In 1902, he challenged the law but the laws limiting his democratic rights were not be repealed until after the Second World War.
He voted again in the federal election held in 1949 at the age of 88, making him the only person of Chinese origin to have voted before and after the disenfranchisement legislation.
Terry Fox: 1958 — 1981
A national icon, activist and athlete. He died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 22, after attempting to run across Canada to generate money and awareness for cancer research.
During his Marathon of Hope, he ran a marathon a day for 143 days covering 5,373 kilometres despite losing his right leg to cancer. He was forced to stop his run in Thunder Bay, Ontario when the disease spread to his lungs. He died 9 months later.
Fox became the youngest person to receive the Order of Canada award in 1980. The annual Terry Fox Run is held all over the world. The Terry Fox Foundation raised around $800 million for cancer research as at April 2020.
Lotta Hitschmanova: 1909 — 1990
Lotta was born in Prague in 1909. She established the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada in 1945. The committee advocated for the poor, sick and starving victims of war, natural disasters and substandard education.
She moved to Canada in July 1942 and settled in Ottawa where she started a job as a postal censor in the Department of War Services and part of her job functions included reading the letters of German prisoners of war.
Unitarian Service Committee of Canada has received a lot of credit for contributing to saving millions of lives in Europe, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, India and Africa and is still operating in 12 countries in Asia, Central and South America, Africa and Canada.
She won many of international awards for her work. In 1969, she became an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to a Companion of the Order in 1980.
Isapo-muxika (Crowfoot): 1830 — 1890
Isapo-muxika was a Siksika chief who negotiated with the federal government on behalf of the Blackfoot Confederacy and became a major link between Indigenous people and the North-West Mounted Police.
He counselled against attacking the Hudson’s Bay Company’s supply lines and established good relations with fur traders and peace with the Cree in 1865. He even adoptied the adult Cree, Poundmaker, as his son.
He kept his people from partaking in the rebellion of 1885 against the federal government and persuaded the Blackfoot to sign Treaty No.7 in 1877 which earned him a reputation as an accomplished diplomat.
Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft): 1861 — 1934
Frederick Loft founded the League of Indians of Canada. Though the league is no longer in existence, it is still regarded as Canada’s first, national Indigenous organization and the inspiration for the Assembly of First Nations.
Out of a sense of duty to the British empire, Loft fought during the First World War and urged other Indigenous Canadians to follow his foot steps.
He is regarded by many as one of the most influential Indigenous activists of the last century due to his writing and activism.