You might end up with a shiny new $1 coin in your palm pretty soon. The Royal Canadian Mint’s commemorative loonie is now in circulation and the story behind it is an important one.
The coin’s release falls on the 125th anniversary of the discovery of gold in the Yukon region of Klondike, kickstarting what became known as the Klondike Gold Rush. “Adventurers with dreams of striking it rich [poured] into the Yukon Territory by the thousands,” says the Mint.
However, the gold-digging frenzy took a huge toll on the Indigenous peoples inhabiting the area for centuries. The coin will now circulate from coast to coast to help educate the public about the lasting legacy of this era on Yukon’s Indigenous population.
View this post on Instagram
“Their displacement, the disruption of their culture and traditional ways of life and the damage on the environment are also legacies of the ‘last great gold rush’, as is the resilience of the Yukon First Nations who are reclaiming their traditional territory and who remain strong stewards and leaders in the Yukon today,” according to the Mint.
The event transformed Canada’s economy, but Yukon’s premier Sandy Silver says that the portrayal of the Klondike Gold Rush “has often been one-sided and reductive,” despite its importance. Prospectors, visitors, and settlers disrupted the land and repressed the Indigenous people’s way of life.
To mark the 125th anniversary of the start of the Klondike Gold Rush, we are introducing these commemorative $1 circulation coins highlighting the 1896 gold discovery in the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
— Royal Canadian Mint (@CanadianMint) September 22, 2021
With the incorporation of Carcross/Tagish and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nations perspectives, Silver says that this coin is a “meaningful step in acknowledging a truth long missing from the Gold Rush story.”
The coin itself features beautiful designs by Vancouver artist Jori van der Linde, depicting the four people who apparently first discovered the gold on Rabbit Creek.
Three million of these coins are now entering circulation across Canada, including two coloured versions and one million uncoloured versions.