The late B.C. artist Bill Reid, known for his contributions to contemporary Indigenous art, is being honoured with a new $2 coin from the Royal Canadian Mint.
Reid, who was an advocate of Haida culture and known by the Haida name Iljuwas, was a goldsmith, carver and sculptor whose work is known all over the world.
He was born in Victoria, B.C. in 1920 and through his mother was a member of the K’aadasga Kiigawaay Raven Wolf Clan of T’aanuu on Haida Gwaii.
Reid died in 1998.
“The greatest impact of my grandfather’s artistic legacy is that he reintroduced our Haida art in a classical form to the world, and through that, bridged cultures,” Nika Collison, executive director of the Haida Gwaii Museum said in a release on Wednesday.
“This coin is a gorgeous tribute to Bill. It represents the high esthetic standards that he believed in. We thank the Canadian Mint and we say ‘Hawaa’ to the Royal Canadian Mint for honouring him this way.”
The coin will feature the image of a grizzly bear, a favourite character in Reid’s work.
He first painted the bear in 1988 on a ceremonial drum belonging to the Sam family of Ahousat, B.C.
Later, he adapted the design for reproduction on silkscreen prints with proceeds going to the Artists for Kids Trust, which benefits children’s art education in B.C.
Three million of the coins will be made, with two million featuring the grizzly bear.