One hundred years after the birth of the late Bill Reid, the legendary artist and advocate of Haida culture also known by the Haida name Iljuwas, the Royal Canadian Mint is issuing a new $2 circulation coin honoring his ground-breaking contributions to contemporary Indigenous art. The bold image of a grizzly bear, a favorite character of Reid’s paintings, carvings, and jewelry, fills the reverse side of this new commemorative coin which was unveiled July 28 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. “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.”
“The Mint is delighted to add the story of Bill Reid’s 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,” said Marie Lemay, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “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.”
Bill Reid (1920-1998) 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,” said Nika Collison, Executive Director of the Haida Gwaii Museum. “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 honoring 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, British Columbia. 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 colors 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 colored and uncolored circulation coin can be purchased together as part of a six-piece Collector Keepsake coin set. They are packaged in a richly illustrated collector card that contains one of each currently circulating coin, from five cents to one dollar.
Other collector products adding to the celebration of Bill Reid’s legacy include:
- Special wrap rolls of 25 two-dollar circulation coins, in colored and uncolored versions
- A 1 oz. fine silver, colored version of the circulation coin design with a mintage of 7,500, and
- A 1 oz. pure gold, engraved version of Bill Reid’s grizzly bear is limited to a worldwide mintage of 400.
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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About the Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint is the Crown corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canada’s circulation coins. The Mint is recognized as one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world, offering a wide range of specialized, high quality coinage products and related services on an international scale. For more information on the Mint, its products and services, visit www.mint.ca.