On June 21st, as another National Indigenous Peoples Day came and went, the Royal Canadian Mint released a limited edition toonie featuring art by three Indigenous artists.
The Royal Canadian Mint releases limited edition toonies every once in a while to commemorate things such as Queen Elizabeth II’s death and Canada’s 150th anniversary, but this National Indigenous Peoples Day toonie will be the first to feature three separate artists’ work on such a small coin.
The three artists, Megan Currie of the English River First Nation, Myrna Pokiak (Agnaviak) of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and Jennine Krauchi of the Red River Métis actively worked together to weave together their First Nations, Inuit, and Métis perspectives through art.
National Aboriginal Day, now National Indigenous Peoples Day, was first established in 1996 by former governor general, Roméo LeBlanc. Since that time the day has changed names a few times until the current rendition was established in 2017.
It is a day in which people from across the country are encouraged to celebrate Indigenous cultures and learn more about their local First Nations.
In Victoria, an event was put on at Royal Roads University in conjunction with the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations as well as the CRD, Uvic, Camosun and many other partners.
On the morning of June 21st, BC’s Premier, David Eby and Murray Rankin, the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation spoke to the significance of the day within British Columbia.
“On this National Indigenous Peoples Day, we recognize and celebrate the diversity, strength and leadership of Indigenous Peoples,” they said in a joint statement. “We honour those who have lived on this land for untold generations and will do so for generations to come.”
“As the summer solstice and longest day of the year, June 21st takes on special significance as a celebration of Indigenous culture and heritage. We encourage everyone to attend a celebration to learn more about Indigenous Peoples’ histories, languages and traditions.”
On the backside of the new coin is the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. It also bears special markings of four pearls which symbolize the four effigies that have been on Canadian coins.
The special coins are available in rolls of 25 on the mint’s website for $79, where the actual value of the coins only amounts to $50. There are only 20,000 rolls available.
The mint has yet to announce if and when the late Queen’s likeness on Canadian currency will change to that of King Charles III.