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e-3960 (Culture and heritage)

Initiated by Jonathan Tsao from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Finance

  • The Bank of Canada is undertaking a redesign of the $5 Canadian bank note;
  • Won Alexander Cumyow is among the shortlist of eight candidates for selection as the next face of the $5 bank note;
  • Mr. Won was the first Chinese-Canadian to be born in present-day Canada;
  • Mr. Won faced systemic racism and discrimination throughout his life;
  • Despite being formally trained as a lawyer, Mr. Won was denied the ability to write the bar exam and practice law because he was ethnic Chinese;
  • Despite adversity, Mr. Won would go on to lead a long and distinguished career as a court interpreter and become a leader of the early Chinese-Canadian community;
  • Mr. Won was at the forefront in the fight against the Chinese head tax, disenfranchisement of Chinese Canadians, and racial segregation;
  • After decades fighting for the right to vote, Won Cumyow was finally able to cast his ballot in 1949, at age 88, following the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1947;
  • This is an important opportunity to showcase to Canadians, newcomers to Canada, and the entire world the rich history of Canada’s immigrant heritage, heritage that formed the foundation of our country and which is woven into the fabric of our society today; and
  • A root cause of anti-Asian racism in Canada is a lack of understanding and appreciation for the contributions of Asian-Canadians throughout our country’s history.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Finance to select Won Alexander Cumyow to be featured as the face on the redesigned five dollars Canadian bank note.

Response by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Chrystia Freeland

The Government of Canada thanks the petitioners for expressing their views about the design of the new $5 bank note.

The accomplishments of distinguished Canadians are an integral part of our history and culture. Their representation on our bank notes is an important means to reflect our shared character and values. The Bank of Canada, on behalf of the government, has taken an open and transparent approach to the consideration of a portrait for the $5 bank note. 

The Bank launched official public consultations in 2020, receiving about 53,000 submissions from about 45,000 Canadians, which resulted in over 600 qualifying nominees. All eligible nominations were reviewed by an independent Advisory Council composed of eminent individuals from academia, the cultural sector, and civil society.

Following a thorough and rigorous process, the Advisory Council established a short list of eight candidates which the government will consider.

The Government of Canada is pleased that thousands of Canadians engaged in this process and took time to reflect on the many remarkable Canadians worth celebrating. The government will take this petition under careful consideration.

Open for signature
April 7, 2022, at 3:40 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
May 7, 2022, at 3:40 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Han Dong (Don Valley North)
May 17, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00487)
Government response tabled
August 17, 2022
Photo - Han Dong
Don Valley North