New toonie features work of beloved Haida artist Bill Reid - InfoNews

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New toonie features work of beloved Haida artist Bill Reid

Bill Reid's toonie.
Image Credit: Royal Canadian Mint
July 29, 2020 - 9:30 AM

One hundred years after the birth of the late Bill Reid, the Royal Canadian Mint is issuing a new toonie honouring his contributions to contemporary Indigenous art.

The image of a grizzly bear, a favourite character of the artist and advocate of Haida culture, paintings, carvings and jewelry, fills the reverse side of this new commemorative coin which was unveiled on the Mint's YouTube channel.

"The Government of Canada 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," said The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, in a press release.

"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."

Reid, who was known by the Haida name Iljuwasm, had a pivotal role in raising awareness of Haida art, and the traditions and culture it represents to the long list of circulation coins celebrating what makes us proud to be Canadian.

He was a master goldsmith, carver and sculptor, as well as a writer and broadcaster. He was also a gifted mentor who championed Haida causes throughout his life. Through his mother, Reid was a member of the K'aadasga Kiigawaay Raven Wolf Clan of T'aanuu.

"The greatest impact of my grandfather's artistic legacy is that he reintroduced our Haida art in a classical form to the world, and through that, bridged cultures," Nika Collison, Executive Director of the Haida Gwaii Museum said in a press release.

"This coin is a gorgeous tribute to Bill. It represents the high esthetic standards that he believed in. We thank the Canadian Mint and we say 'Hawaa' to the Royal Canadian Mint for honouring him this way."

The artwork appearing on the 2020 $2 Circulation Coin – 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Bill Reid is known as Xhuwaji, Haida Grizzly Bear. Reid painted it in 1988 on a ceremonial drum belonging to the Sam family of Ahousat, B.C. He later adapted the design for reproduction on silkscreen prints, with proceeds benefitting the Artists for Kids Trust, which benefits children's art education in British Columbia through the sale of original prints created by professional artists.

Limited to a mintage of three million coins, of which two million will feature Xhuwaji, Haida Grizzly Bear in the bold red and black colours of Haida artistic tradition, this new $2 circulation coin is now entering general circulation. It will reach Canadians through their change as bank branches and businesses replenish their inventories of $2 coins.

The coloured and uncoloured circulation coin can be purchased together as part of a six-piece Collector Keepsake coin set.

These collectibles can be ordered as of today by contacting the Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the US, or online at www.mint.ca/billreid.They are also available at the Royal Canadian Mint's Winnipeg boutique, as well as through the Mint's global network of dealers and distributors, including participating Canada Post outlets.


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