Tim Whiskeychan is officially a minted success. In September, the Nation reported that the Royal Canadian Mint would use the Cree artist’s design for a special edition $5 coin. The coin, which features a Cree hunter aiming his bow at flying geese from behind a blind, was launched at a special ceremony in Ottawa on November 25.
Romeo Saganash, MP for Abitibi–Baie-James–Nunavik–Eeyou, presided over the event as Master of Ceremonies. After an opening prayer by Elder Claudette Commanda, the Ottawa drum group O-town Boyz performed an honour song. Saganash then read a congratulatory note to Whiskeychan from Quebec Aboriginal Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley.
Patrick Hadsipantelis of the Royal Canadian Mint also spoke on the importance of working with First Nations artists. The Mint has worked extensively with the Aboriginal artists’ collective Sacred Fire Productions to commission several coins. Whiskeychan’s goose design is the latest.
Whiskeychan says that inspiration for the piece was never hard to find.
“My father taught me about the livelihood of our people and how important it is to maintain our connection to the land,” he said. “As an artist I try to bring that out in my work to preserve and explain how important that way of life still is today.”
The coin’s launch event was attended by several Crees, including Cree Mineral Exploration Board President Jack Blacksmith and Lloyd Cheechoo of the CNACA.