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Mint’s new coin honours founder of Manitoba and Metis leader Louis Riel

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 Royal Canadian Mint has issued a new coin featuring a portrait of Louis Riel, an important Metis leader and the founder of Manitoba. . Rudi Pawlychyn/Global New

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.

READ MORE: Louis Riel honoured on anniversary of execution, part of Métis Week celebrations

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.

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The coin was launched Tuesday on the 175th anniversary of Riel’s birth.
The coin was launched Tuesday on the 175th anniversary of Riel’s birth. Rudi Pawlychyn/Global New

“Louis Riel is both an iconic figure and an aspirational role model not only for the Metis Nation, but for all Canadians. He protected Metis 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.

READ MORE: ‘We’re reclaiming our heritage’: The controversial rise of the eastern Metis

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.

Metis 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 Metis people to secure their place within the Canadian Federation but also gave birth to western Canada itself.”

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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 Metis Nation made an undeniable contribution to Manitoba and Canada.”

The Louis Riel statue
The Louis Riel statue