Which inspiring Canadian should be the face of the new $5 banknote?

For nearly 50 years, Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s bust has adorned Canada’s $5 bill. His likeness will be replaced in the coming years.

The big question, of course, is who should replace him. As per recent custom, the Bank of Canada called on public opinion.

Nominees have to meet three basic criteria. They:

  • Are a Canadian by birth or naturalization who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, achievement, or distinction in any field, benefiting the people of Canada, or in the service of Canada.
  • Have been deceased for at least 25 years (before March 11, 1995).
  • Are not a fictional character.

More than 600 nominees fit the criteria. Now, the Bank of Canada has whittled it down to a shortlist of eight. They are:

Pitseolak Ashoona, Robertine Barry (“Françoise”), Binaaswi (Francis Pegahmagabow), Won Alexander Cumyow, Terry Fox, Lotta Hitschmanova, Isapo-muxika (Crowfoot), Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft).

Four of the final nominees are Indigenous. Five criteria alongside public input were weighted to generate the shortlist:

  • Positive change: Nominees should have changed Canada and Canadians for the better
  • National icon: Their impact is known nationally across Canada
  • Universality: They have had an impact in Canada and this impact should reflect Canadian values
  • Uniqueness: They are uniquely Canadian and known beyond their local/regional communities
  • Relevancy: They had an impact that is relevant today

Most important, however, is how the public feels. And the public feels Terry Fox. According to Angus Reid, more than half of Canadians want to see the iconic runner on the new fiver.

No surprise. In 2004, Terry Fox finished second a nationwide project to name The Greatest Canadian. Tommy Douglas, Father of Medicare, finished first (he was on the $5 bill longlist but did not make the cut).

Viola Desmond is the most recent new face of Canadian currency. She was chosen in 2016.