Inuvialuk artist designs N.W.T.'s 150th anniversary coin

The coin marks the 150th anniversary of the territory's entry into confederation, says the Royal Canadian Mint.

Royal Canadian Mint releases new coin designed by Myrna Pokiak

Myrna Pokiak, an Inuvialuk artist in the N.W.T., designed the new N.W.T coin celebrating 150 years of joining confederation. (CBC)

The Royal Canadian Mint has released a new coin to celebrate N.W.T.'s 150 years in joining confederation, designed by Inuvialuk artist Myrna Pokiak.

In a news release posted to its website this month, the coin minting and distributing Crown corporation says it's issued new collector coins that range from pure silver to gold, to commemorate that occasion.

"This piece of history is also a tribute to the various Indigenous cultures that have shaped the spirit and identity of this special part of Canada," states the news release.

The coin features 11 ulus, or Inuit traditional knives, that represent Inuvialuit and the territory's 11 official languages, states the release. It also includes a Dene teepee and a Métis sash which flows like a river across it. 

Above the ulus, a girl drums and dances "to the songs in her heart" which represents the pride in people about their traditions, states the release.

See the details on the N.W.T. coin here:

There will only be 2,500 coins that will circulate, says the corporation.

Artist Pokiak says that through the design phase, her ancestors and daughters were her inspiration.

"What I was taught was passed down through generations and in honouring my ancestors, I have to pass on my knowledge to future generations," wrote Pokiak in an email to CBC.

The girl on the coin represents any one of her three daughters — or any northern girl or boy, mother or father, or grandparents, said Pokiak. (Submitted by Myrna Pokiak)

She explained how N.W.T. landmarks — like the Mackenzie River — sustained Inuvialuit since time immemorial. 

"For myself, as a young child and for my own daughters today, the iconic pingos, have always represented and guided my family home," said Pokiak.

Pokiak said the girl on the coin represents any one of her three daughters — or any northern girl or boy, mother or father, or grandparents.

"It's through drumming and dancing to the songs deep within this girl's heart, and others like her, that keeps our history alive, celebrating ... our life in the Northwest Territories," said Pokiak.

"Canada's Northwest Territories is vibrant with culture. Indigenous cultures that have been here since time immemorial continue to root and centre heritage, language, arts and traditional ways of life," said Johanna Tiemessen, a manager of arts and fine crafts for the N.W.T. government, in the news release.

"Artwork, such as this beautifully illustrated coin, celebrates our diversity and our unity, and will share this vision for generations to come."

The Royal Canadian Mint says due to the pandemic, the N.W.T. coin deliveries are scheduled for Nov. 24.