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Calgary students submit designs for new Indigenous $5 bill

Calgary students submit designs for new Indigenous $5 bill
WATCH: A group of Grade 7 Calgary students would like to see an Indigenous face on the new $5 bill. As Silvana Benolich reports, they’re submitting their designs to the Bank of Canada.

The Bank of Canada is currently accepting nominations for who should be the face of the new $5 bill, and a group of Calgary students says it’s time for an Indigenous person to bear the honour.

Grade 7 students at the Calgary Academy have been researching Indigenous figures in Canadian history for the past two weeks.

Each student is designing their own $5 bill based on an Indigenous person they feel made an important contribution to Canada.

“I decided to honour Jackson Beardy because he created some of the Cree Indigenous artwork,” said 13-year-old Pierce Wilfur on Monday. “I knew I wanted to put some of his artwork on [the bill]… I looked into it more and figured [out] that he went to a residential school so I put that on the $5 bill.”

“I wanted to do a design of Tommy Prince because he fought in the war and he had a lot of medals for saving his country,” said 12-year-old Trinity Alberding. “They were the first people on the land and no one really remembered them. They’re really important. There’s a lot of heroes.”

Students are designing their own $5 bill based on an Indigenous person they feel made an important contribution to Canada.
Students are designing their own $5 bill based on an Indigenous person they feel made an important contribution to Canada. Global News

Twelve-year-old Elijah Gillissie chose Chief Crowfoot as her design inspiration.

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“He fought a lot for peace and also peaceful trade with the Europeans back in the 1800s, and he was also a warrior at a young age. Maybe our parents haven’t really learned about this stuff in school,” she said.

“It’s kind of cool that we get to learn about it now so then we can teach our kids.”

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The activity is part of a larger project-based learning experience the Calgary Academy has been working on, according to Grade 7 teacher Tienneke Calder.

“What actions can we take to further the spirit and the intent of the journey of reconciliation?” Calder said.

As students learned about different Indigenous figures in Canadian history, they posed more questions and came up with new ideas so that in the end, they began to formulate the direction of the project, the teacher explained.

Reconciliation vocabulary.
Reconciliation vocabulary. Global News

Moving away from more traditional ways of schooling is exactly what the Calgary Academy is trying to do, according to instructional designer Maureen Kelly-Gibson.

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“To go from less surface-level learning to really deep learning, and then transfer that learning into a project at the end, [students] can really be proud of [work] that’s really authentic,” said Kelly-Gibson.

Tsuut’ina elder Bruce Starlight said projects like this give him hope for the future.

“What makes this so special for me is it’s actual students… who’ve honestly stepped forward and [are really doing] something about reconciliation,” Starlight said.

“It’s a milestone for me to be witnessing something that’s happening from students.”

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If one of their design submissions is successful, Calgary Academy students think the banknote should be called “the reconciliation five.”

Submissions for the new $5 bill must be made by March 11 on the Bank of Canada’s website.

Other popular candidates include Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox and Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, both of whom died after inspiring battles with cancer.