By Hannah Schultz, News Editor
Leonard Nimoy, the celebrated actor who played the part of Spock in the famed television series Star Trek, died on Feb. 27. Beloved by those all over the world, fans reacted with an outpouring of tweets and social media homages. However, Canadian mourners were unique in their tributes: they decided to deface currency.
“‘Spock’ your $5 bills for Leonard Nimoy,” the Canadian Design Resource tweeted that day. The tweet referred to drawing Vulcan eyebrows and Spock’s trademark bowl cut onto Canada’s seventh prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, whose face is on the $5 banknote.
Immediately, thousands of pictures poured in, all displaying different variations of Spock drawn over Laurier. The “Spock five” campaign garnered international attention, with a Bank of Canada spokeswoman, Josianne Ménard, issuing a statement on March 2 in response to claims that the defacement of Canadian currency was illegal.
“It is not illegal to write or make other markings on bank notes because neither the Bank of Canada Act nor the Criminal Code deals with mutilation or defacement of bank notes,” she said.
The response was met with enthusiasm and encouragement to continue the practice. “Boldly go ahead, doodlers: bank says ‘Spocking’ Laurier on Canadian $5 not illegal,” one tweet read.
However, Ménard criticized the “Spock five” in the same statement, calling the defacement a blow to nationalism.
“There are important reasons why it should not be done,” she said. “Writing on a bank note may interfere with the security features and reduces its lifespan. Markings on a note may also prevent it from being accepted in a transaction. Furthermore, the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride.”
This will not prevent mourners from continuing to honor Nimoy through drawings and messages on the banknotes, however. It has been called a “Canadian cultural phenomenon” since being started in 2008, when the “Spock Your Fives” Facebook group was started to foster the practice.
“Adieu to the great Leonard Nimoy,” a parody Twitter account of Laurier tweeted. “Honoured so many Canadians thought we looked alike & would ‘Spock’ their $5 bills.”