Students put in their five cents on who should be on the new $5 bill

Five alive: Vicky Deschesnes enjoys her lunch at SAIT on Jan. 17. Deschesnes, a civil engineering student, said she would like to see someone who had an impact on the technology or science fields in Canada appear on the $5 bill. (Photo by Brennan Black/The Press)

Terry Fox?

Banting and Best?

Or someone else who has made an impact on Canadian society?

Calgary post-secondary students have been thinking about who they would like to see pictured on the new $5 bill currently being designed.

Speculation as to who should be on the new bill has been building since the Bank of Canada announced it would be holding public consultations about whose face should grace the new note.

The bank has given Canadians until March 11 to comment on the new note.

“I want to look at the bill and be proud of what I see,” said Vicky Deschesnes, a civil engineering student at SAIT.

Deschesnes said it would be cool to see somebody who made a technological or scientific impact on Canada, and she suggested the former astronaut, Governor-General Julie Payette for the honour, who unfortunately doesn’t qualify as she is still very much alive.

Candidates for the face of the bill must be citizens or naturalized Canadians who have been dead for at least 25 years. No fictional characters need apply.

Shayla Ramsay and Ayden Christensen, two medical radiologic technology students at SAIT, said they would like to see someone from the medical field be represented on the bill.

“I think the guys who discovered how to make insulin would be a great choice,” said Ramsay, referring to Canadian researchers Fredrick Banting and Charles Best, who pioneered the development of the drug for the treatment of diabetes.

Ramsay said the currency is used to show people who have had an impact on Canada, so Canadians should take note of it.

Christensen said a Canadian who greatly affected, or advocated for the medical field would be awesome, and she said Terry Fox would be an ideal candidate.

Fox has been frequently mentioned as being a good choice for the bill.

Maddy O’Toole, a broadcasting student at Mount Royal University, said Fox would be a great pick for the bill because he is a timeless figure in Canadian history.

“His energy is still very present in Canada,” she said.

O’Toole said painter Emily Carr would be another excellent choice, as it would be nice to see another woman be featured on Canadian currency.

Civil rights activist Viola Desmond is the only woman other than the Queen to appear on Canadian currency.

Not everyone was interested in who should be on the fiver, however.

Some students said they didn’t care who ends up on the bill, as they were just going to spend it anyways.

“At the end of the day I’m still going to spend the five bucks, even if Justin Bieber is on it,” said Nicolas Gee, a SAIT student.

Gee said he would much rather see a Canadian value, such as multiculturalism, be represented on the bill rather than a figure from history.

“I’m apprehensive about figureheads,” he said.

All of the students agreed that they would prefer anyone but another politician.

Throughout its history, Canadian currency has featured the faces of politicians, with Wilfred Laurier being pictured on the current $5 bill.

“I’m sick of seeing politicians on the money,” said O’Toole.

Deschesnes said politics these days is too divisive, so putting a political figure on the bill would lead to some people not liking who was on it.

Christensen said politicians come and go, and their faces would be better printed in textbooks than on the currency.

The students were divided about whether, printing a new bill was important.

Deschesnes said she mostly uses debit or credit cards to pay for things, so seeing a new bill would be more of a novelty for her.

“I don’t know if it’s worth the cost of changing it,” she said.

According to the Retail Council of Canada, only 15 per cent of Canadians regularly pay for items with cash.

Kobe Coristine, a business administration student at SAIT, said his grandparents are the only people he knows who still pay for everything with cash.

At the end of the day I’m still going to spend the five bucks, even if Justin Bieber is on it. – Nicolas Gee

Despite the declining interest in cash, some students said it was still important to care about the currency.

O’Toole said Canadians are not the only ones who use the currency, as tourists use it all the time, and Canadian money is internationally known.

“Our money is just really unique. It’s colourful and it’s durable,” she said.