Canada first had a loonie, then came the toonie.
A regional politician looking to succeed Cathy McLeod as the area’s next MP has a novel idea to replace the $5 bill with a coin featuring First Nations symbolism.
The name of the new proposed coin, however, may need a little work: the foonie?
“I have no idea,” Barriere Mayor Ward Stamer told KTW when asked what his proposed $5 coin would be called. “That’s totally up to the people. I’d love for everybody to run with it.”
Stamer, one of four people seeking the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative nomination in the next federal election, said his idea for a coin to replace the $5 bill came as a way to recognize First Nations.
“None of our money truly is specific for our indigenous peoples, not one,” Stamer said. “And I thought, why not have something like that because it’s going to be around for a long time?”
As for those who would prefer Prime Minister Laurier remain on the $5 bill?
“Well, if it’s such a big deal, you could have a bill where you have four or five prime ministers on it, for crying out loud,” Stamer said. “I’m not one for cancel culture, but just because his face is on it today doesn’t mean it has to be on there tomorrow.”
Stamer had made a prototype drawing depicting what the proposed $5 coin could look like.
The design includes a fish and a hole in the middle in the shape of a maple leaf. Animals are commonplace on Canadian coins and Stamer noted fish are symbolic to First Nations peoples. He said older money had holes in the middle, used by people to string coins around their necks and keep it safe. In addition, he said the hole would be a metaphor because looking through the coin could represent looking to the future. Every time one went into their pocket to pay for something, Stamer said, the coin would provide a reminder.
“There’s one person who said, ‘Oh, it’s tokenism,’” he said. “No, it’s not because what it does is, it starts the conversation and it reminds you of something … whether it’s what we’re talking about right now with residential schools and so many people not truly understanding what happened. I graduated 40 years ago. We didn’t get taught really what went on in residential schools and the socio-economic impacts that occurred there for the people.”
Stamer said he does not know if the Royal Mint is considering a $5 coin in place of polymer bills currently in circulation.
However, he said if there is support for such an initiative, he doesn’t see why it wouldn’t come to fruition. If he manages to win the Conservative nomination and be elected as MP, Stamer said he will take the $5 coin idea to Ottawa through a private member’s bill.
In addition to honouring First Nations, Stamer pointed out that a $5 coin would be less expensive in the long run as it will outlast even the most modern polymer bank notes now in circulation.
Did you know?
• The loonie replaced the Canadian dollar bill in 1987. The loonie has 11 sides, weighs 6.27 grams and is 1.95 millimetres in thickness.
• The toonie replaced the Canadian $2 bill in 1996. The round coin weighs 7.3 grams and is 1.8 millimetres in thickness. An added bonus is that the toonie can be used to check the tread on your tires.