This article was first published by APTN News Canada. It has been republished with permission.
Tommy Prince is the most decorated Indigenous soldier in Canadian history.
And history could soon add being the face of the new five-dollar bill to his accolades.
The federal politician that represents the Manitoba riding where Prince once lived thinks he would be a perfect fit.
“Tommy Prince is the person that needs to be on there,” said James Bezan, Conservative MP for Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman.
“He represents the best ideals of bravery and contribution and sacrifice, as well as needing to tell a story about reconciliation and systemic racism…And he encapsulates all that in just his story.”
The Bank of Canada put out a call for nominees at the beginning of this year and the Conservative party responded with a petition to put Prince on the bill.
From attending Indian residential school, to fighting in the Second World and Korean wars, and selling his war medals to help him survive – Prince’s story is inspiring and tragic, said the shadow minister for Crown Indigenous relations, who sees the appointment as an opportunity to promote reconciliation.
“The more momentum we have towards this the better chance we have of getting Tommy Prince on the new five-dollar bill,” said Jamie Schmale, Conservative MP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
“I think it’s another step we take to the path of reconciliation and recognize some of the mistakes of the past such as residential schools but also honouring Sgt. Tommy Prince in his career in the military and coming out as a war hero.”
Tommy’s grandson Buddy Prince hopes Tommy’s story and face on the new bill can be a symbol for equality.
“When he did come back, he wasn’t even allowed to vote. And this is one of the stronger things that I believe he stood up for – was equal rights for all Indigenous people across the country and in the U.S.,” said Buddy.
“Especially in this time of reconciliation, you know going forward with the five dollar bill and Tommy Prince’s face representing that dollar bill, it’s something we all need to look at and say the impossible is no longer impossible.”
The new $5 bill will be vertical just like the $10 bill released in 2018 featuring Viola Desmond. It takes roughly three to four years to design, produce and issue a new bank note from the time a public campaign is started, which happened in January for the next $5 bill.
By Darrell Stranger