Former Slave & Abolitionist Harriet Tubman Will Grace American $20 Bill. Now how About A Another Heroine With A Niagara Link – Laura Secord – Gracing A Canadian Bank Note?
A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted April 24th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Many Niagara, Ontario residents expressed pride this past winter when a statue of Harriet Tubman – created by artist and former Niagara resident Frank Rekrut at his art studio in Florence, Italy, was unveiled at a new school in the Niagara community of St. Catharines, just down the road where she spent a few years living in the years before the American Civil War of the 1860s.
That pride was manifest for some of us again this past April 20th when the United States Treasury Department announced that for the first time in that country’s 240-year-old history the image of a woman in the name of Harriet Tubman – a former slave in America who went on lead fleeing saves through the “underground railway” to freedom in Canada – will be featured on U.S. paper currency.
To add to the richness (one might toss in poetic justice) of the announcement, Harriet will be replacing Andrew Jackson, an owner of slaves in the Carolinas and one-term U.S. president during the first half of the 19th Century – on the ever prominent $20 bill.
That got me thinking again, why not another heroine with strong links to Niagara, on our Canadian currency. It was just this past March that Canada’s still new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced plans to follow up on those of our American neighbours and feature a woman for the first time on one of our bills.
Being a Niagara native with the history of this region now forever baked in my bones, Laura Secord was one of the first names that came to mind.
It was only three years ago this June, that thousands of Niagara area residents celebrated the 200th anniversary of Laura Secord’s heroic walk from her home in the Niagara village of Queenston, across what was then 20 miles of wilderness in the dark, to warn British commanders stationed at a house in the Beaver Dams area of Thorold of an impending attack by U.S. troops during the War of 1812.
Laura’s legendary walk was one of a short-list of milestone events during that war that leads to why the U.S. flag is not flying in dominance over this region of Canada today.
Unfortunately, I was away from the region off and on, when I wasn’t enmeshed in some hot button issues here like the outrageous bid by (believe it or not) something that calls itself a Conservation Authority to destroy provincially significant wetlands for developers. So I didn’t get around to checking out an email from a good Niagara-based group – Friends of Laura Secord – until it looked like it was too late to do anything about a message attached.
The message asked anyone who received it to submit a note to the Bank of Canada, asking it to consider choosing Laura Secord as the first woman, besides the Queen of England, to appear on our country’s paper currency. But by the time I opened it, time had run out on the mid-April deadline the Bank had set for people to submit their choices.
But when the good news about Harriet going on American currency came out a few days ago, I thought why don’t we keep submitting our choices for a woman on Canadian currency anyway? What is this with giving Canadians only about a month to make a submission when the U.S. government gave their citizens the better part of a year?
So I would urge all of us to send in a vote for Laura anyway to the Bank of Canada (contact link included a few graphs down here) and to whoever your federal Member of Parliament happens to be.
If the lack of urgency Canadian officials have shown over the past decade or so on climate change is any example, several months or even more than a year could go by before they get around to choosing a woman for our currency. When it comes to the federal government, deadlines don’t much matter unless Revenue Canada decides that some person making less than $40,000 a year still owes it $83 on last year’s income tax return.
So I would not hesitate to make a submission to both the Bank of Canada and your MP, and to the Prime Minister’s Office if you are of a mind to.
Now here are the first few graphs of the message Friends of Laura Secord sent out earlier this April, followed by links for the Friends’ website and for the Bank of Canada.
“Dear Friends – Laura Secord’s efforts literally changed the course of Canadian history, setting the stage for Confederation and helping to establish an enabling national context for the accomplishments of Canadian women today.
Her story and iconic appeal have transcended generations of Canadians and will continue as an inspirational metaphor for courage, determination, and fortitude for Canadian women – and, indeed, all Canadians – hereafter.
Let’s make sure she is the first woman to grace a Canadian bank note!”
For more about the Friends of Laura Secord click on – www.friendsoflaurasecord.com .
To contact The Bank of Canada, click on –http://www.bankofcanada.ca/about/contact-information/ .
For a story Niagara At Large posted this past February on the unveiling of a statue of Harriet Tubman at a St. Catharines, Ontario school, click on -. https://niagaraatlarge.com/2016/02/10/19th-century-heroine-harriet-tubman-gets-a-warm-welcome-home-in-st-catharines-ontario/
For more on the creation of the Harriet Tubman statue, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2016/03/16/introducing-a-short-film-documentary-on-the-making-of-a-statue-of-a-heroine-for-a-niagara-ontario-school/
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