A new circulation toonie launched on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 honours the work of late Haida artist Bill Reid. (Royal Canadian Mint photo)

A new circulation toonie launched on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 honours the work of late Haida artist Bill Reid. (Royal Canadian Mint photo)

New toonie honours work of Haida artist Bill Reid

Royal Canadian Mint launched new circulation coin on July 28

The Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled a new toonie that honours late Haida artist Bill Reid, 100 years after his birth.

In a release on July 28, the mint announced three million of the $2 coins were entering general circulation, to reach Canadians as bank branches and businesses replenish their inventories.

“Millions of Canadians will experience the power and beauty of Bill Reid’s art as this coin finds its way to them in their change,” said Marie Lemay, president and CEO of the mint.

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The reverse side of two million of the coins is adorned with the image of a grizzly bear, known as Xhuwaji, in the red and black colours of Haida artistic tradition.

According to the release, the member of the K’aadasga Kiigawaay Raven Wolf Clan of T’aanuu painted the image in 1988 on a ceremonial drum belonging to the Sam family of Ahousat, B.C. Reid later adapted the design for reproduction on silkscreen prints, with proceeds benefiting children’s art education.

Nika Collison, executive director of the Haida Gwaii Museum, said the greatest impact of her grandfather’s artistic legacy is that he “reintroduced Haida art in a classical form to the world, and through that, bridged cultures.”

“This coin is a gorgeous tribute to Bill,” Collison said. “It represents the high aesthetic standards that he believed in. We thank the Canadian mint and we say ‘Hawaa’ to the Royal Canadian Mint for honouring him this way.”

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, said the Canadian government recognizes the important contributions of Indigenous peoples, “including the artistic traditions that have shaped their cultures over millennia and personally enriched us as people who call Canada home.”

“We are proud that the Royal Canadian Mint has chosen to immortalize Haida artist Bill Reid on a commemorative circulation coin that shows the inspirational strength of his legendary body of work,” Guilbeault said.

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The coloured and uncoloured circulation coin can be purchased together as part of a six-piece set, packaged in an illustrated collector card that contains one of each currently circulating coin, from five cents to $1.

Collectibles can be ordered by contacting the mint at 1-800-267-1871 or online at mint.ca/billreid.

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