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First of its kind coin honours Bondar; astronaut says Sault will always be home (3 photos)

Bondar calls friends, family her 'stars'

Yet another honour for Dr. Roberta Bondar.

The Royal Canadian Mint officially unveiled a commemorative coin Tuesday to mark the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Sault native’s 1992 eight-day mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery as Canada’s first female astronaut.

The unveiling took place, with Bondar present, at Sault College’s Multimedia Room.

The room was packed, and included many of Bondar’s friends and  family.    

“They’re like my stars,” Bondar told reporters.

“They are people who I’ve looked to for support through all the years…it’s just fantastic, it’s the warmest feeling I could possibly have.”

The Royal Canadian Mint’s Bondar coin is unique because it is the first that can glow in the dark, and is one of few that are curved.

The coin shows a view of the earth, similar to what Bondar would have seen from space, with a special emphasis on Canada.

“This morning was the first time I saw it and actually held it and I thought this is phenomenal, the shape of it is really terrific, and I think the lights on it really reflect hope and inspiration for the future,” Bondar said.

The Multimedia Room at Sault College was filled with notable local figures for Tuesday’s event, including Sault MP Terry Sheehan, Sault Mayor Christian Provenzano, city councillors and staff, along with Sault College Aviation students, including Oliver Karbonik, who introduced Bondar as she took the podium to address the audience.

A pre-recorded congratulatory message from Governor-General David Johnston was played on a large screen.

Any message for the young aviators-to-be, and youth in general, from Dr. Bondar?

“I think following your passion is really important but you have to have a strategy, passion without strategy can’t get you anywhere…I had a strategy about getting into the space program and having the proper skill set to do it.”

Bondar has excelled as a neurosurgeon, astronaut, photographer (with a special interest in nature) and is currently heading the Roberta Bondar Foundation, which focuses on environmental awareness.

SooToday asked if there is one part of her varied career that she has especially cherished.

“That’s a very interesting question,” Bondar said.

“I look upon it as a number of Mount Everests…there are things at a particular moment which are the most important thing to me, and then 10 years later something else happens that has an equal kind of emotion for me.”

“I look at being a physician and saving lives, working with people to make their lives better, I look at my Foundation work in trying to get people reconnected with nature in a very meaningful way, I look at my space flight, the view of the earth from space, they’re all part of a great mountain range, a part of my history.”

Bondar said her greatest passion is to communicate and share concepts and wisdom she has accumulated through her experiences.

Though based in Toronto, Bondar said the Sault will always be home.

“I don’t get back here enough,” she smiled.

The 2017 $25 Fine Silver Coin, entitled ‘A View of Canada from Space,’ has a limited mintage of 8,500 and sells for $159.95.  

It can be purchased from the Royal Canadian Mint beginning today.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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