WINNIPEG — The Royal Canadian Mint has issued a new coin featuring a portrait of Louis Riel, an important Metis leader and the founder of Manitoba.
The coin was launched on the 175th anniversary of Riel’s birth.
It is also the first coin to be engraved with Michif, the official language of the Metis Nation.
Riel was central to the Red River and North-West resistances to assert Indigenous rights and stop the Canadian encroachment on Metis land.
He was executed in 1885.
The coin features a portrait of Riel wearing a fur-trimmed buckskin jacket covered with floral beadwork.
Riel is encircled by a traditional Coventry sash in the shape of an infinity sign, which represents the Metis Nation.
“Louis Riel is both an iconic figure and an aspirational role model not only for the Métis Nation, but for all Canadians. He protected Métis self-determination, stood strong for language, religious, and Indigenous rights, and resisted injustice,” said Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand in a news release.
The Mint worked with the Metis federation to commemorate Riel’s birthday, Chartrand said. The coin also features an engraving of Riel’s signature.
It was designed by Metis artist David Garneau and only 15,000 will be produced. It costs $59.95 and will be available in November.
Métis National Council President Clement Chartier said the coin is a fitting tribute to the important leader. He added in the release that Riel’s vision and sacrifice “not only shaped the struggle of the Métis people to secure their place within the Canadian Federation but also gave birth to western Canada itself.”
President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint Marie Lemay said the coins tell stories of people who have shaped the course of Canadian history.
“We are proud that our newest collector coin recognizes that Louis Riel’s leadership and tireless advocacy for the Métis Nation made an undeniable contribution to Manitoba and Canada.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2019.
Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press