CNIB centennial coin by Kitchener artist etched in symbolism

Kitchener artist Meghan Sims designed a coin to mark the 100th anniversary of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind that is steeped in symbolism and celebrates the past and the future of the community and a place of refuge the organization represents.

Meghan Sims says she wanted to represent all the good the CNIB has done

Kitchener artist Meghan Sims is pictured here with her painting Wrong Way, which was part of an exhibit in 2016. (Jackie Sharkey/CBC)

Kitchener artist Meghan Sims has designed the coin to mark the 100th anniversary of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

She said the coin is steeped in symbolism and celebrates the past and the future of the community.

Sims's design for the Royal Canadian Mints's project marks a different turn for them as its the first time they've included braille on a coin and commissioned an artist who has a rare visual condition that does not allow her to see colours. Sims has achromatopsia, which means she sees only a few feet in front of her, in grayscale and is extremely sensitive to light.

"Never did I think that I would have this opportunity to speak for the CNIB and it brought home that sense of pride I was looking for to represent others," Sims said.

"I just feel very proud, to be blind, partially sighted in Canada today."

This design submitted by Kitchener artist Meghan Sims was chosen by the Royal Canadian Mint for the fine silver coin that honours the 100th anniversary of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. It's part of a set that includes a bronze medallion that celebrates a century of help given to generations of blind and partially sighted Canadians. (Royal Canadian Mint)

The symbolism in Meghan's coin

Sims explained her coin on an interview with CBC K-W's The Morning Edition. The highlights she noted:

  • A convex horizontal line signifying a horizon.
  • A circle that doubles as an Iris represents a setting sun and a rising moon suggesting the element of time past and future
  • Seven Jack Pine trees represents the seven gentleman who started the CNIB in 1918. As well Jack Pines grow in harsh environments and thrive after a forest fire.              
  • A forest, which Sims describes as a place of refuge for her because of her visual condition. Meghan is light sensitive and finds the forest represents a place of safety and refuge, just like the CNIB.
  • In Braille, engraved is CNIB-100-INCA.

As for the mountains in the horizon, Sims said, they represent to her the grounding base the CNIB has had for her.

"It gave me a touchstone in an environment and be of help to someone and everyone in the office. It's a peaceful place to be," said Sims, who volunteers with the organization.

Sims praised the wonderful job the engraver did "right down to the little intricate lines that are reflected in the water in the lower half of the coin."

The commemorative coin and medallion set is available to be purchased through the Royal Canadian Mint.

A design submitted by Kitchener artist Meghan Sims was chosen by the Royal Canadian Mint for the fine silver coin that honours the 100th anniversary of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. It's part of a set that includes a bronze medallion that celebrates a century of help given to generations of blind and partially sighted Canadians. 7:06