Monarchs have long played an important role in society and the world of currency. With the transition of power from Queen Elizabeth to King Charles, many countries around the world are in the process of replacing banknotes featuring the former monarch with the new king. This change is not without controversy, as the tradition of having the monarch featured on currency, particularly within Canada, has been called into question by some who believe that it perpetuates a colonial past and represents the oppression of Indigenous communities.
Although many still associate the monarch’s presence on the currency as a symbol of stability and power, it is still a constant reminder of the unrepairable generational harm they have inflicted on the Indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups.
In Canada, the process of replacing Queen Elizabeth with King Charles on banknotes has yet to start, as the government’s finance department is waiting on more details from Buckingham Palace. Once that part of the process has been finalized, the government must decide how the new banknotes will look, assuming that it will incorporate several significant aspects prevalent within the Indigenous culture after extensive consultation with its community.
“Seeing the face of an Indigenous woman on commonly circulating currency will serve to inform the Canadian population at large of the valuable contributions of Indigenous people. In this era of reconciliation, more specifically, economic reconciliation, creating space for the recognition of our peoples is important more than ever, especially for Indigenous women. Showcasing the trail-blazing late elder and Chief Margaret LaBillois will help to change this narrative by stimulating conversation around this remarkable leader, her wartime service to Canada and her unwavering leadership for her people.” Said Tracey Metallic, Canadian Artist “Cover Image”
“First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people should all be represented, with the goal of having historical heroes and/or present day role models featured prominently on Canadian banknotes. Some examples would be historical figures like Louis Riel and Molly Brant to present day trailblazers like Buffy Sainte-Marie, Rosemarie Kuptana and Senator Murray Sinclair.” Said Miki Dare, Canadian Artist
It has been argued that the presence of the monarch on the Canadian currency symbolizes colonialism and the destruction of Indigenous culture. Replacing the former queen with someone from the Indigenous community is a powerful gesture towards the ongoing reconciliation between Canada’s Indigenous community and the government. The symbolic nature of such a change would be significant in acknowledging the importance of Indigenous culture and history in Canada.
The monarchy has a long and complex history, and its role in modern society continues to be a topic of debate. The transition from Queen Elizabeth to King Charles is a reminder of the ongoing evolution of the monarchy and the role it plays in Canada today.
The calls for the monarch to be abolished in Canada is something many would like to happen, though it would be a long, complicated process, but doable. This would also require the renegotiation or transferring of treaties signed with the monarch to the new sovereign government of Canada.
The tradition of having the monarch featured on currency dates back to the 16th century when monarchs first appeared on coins to show their power and legitimacy. Over time, this practice expanded to include banknotes, and the monarch became an important symbol of state authority. Many countries still view the monarch as a symbol of their nation, and their image on their currency serves to remind them of the continuity of government and monarchy.
Considering traditions are often broken, amended, abolished and made for new ones, why not make 2023 the year Canadians start their own? The symbolic nature of such a change would be significant in acknowledging the importance of indigenous culture and history in Canada. It would be a step towards a more inclusive and equitable future for all Canadians.
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