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Canada’s Black Loyalists Honored on Coin

$20 Commem BHM

At the Royal Canadian Mint sincere pride is taken in paying homage to Canada’s vast and complex history. You can see it in all of their coinage, both commemorative and circulating. It has always been my opinion that this and the RCM’s great attention to fine detail in engraving their designs are the main factors that continue to drive the solid demand that has always been evident for their coins.

During this year’s Black History Month the Royal Canadian Mint launched a $20 silver proof celebrating Canada’s Black Loyalists. This is the moniker used to describe both the free and enslaved Black people who resettled and immigrated to British North America throughout the colonial period and stayed loyal to Great Britain during the American Revolution. Many enslaved Black people who stayed Loyal to the Crown during the American War of Independence, or the Revolutionary War as is it known in the U.S., were offered freedom in exchange for joining the British side during the war.

After the war many Black Loyalists stayed in Canada, laying down new roots in Lower Canada and the Maritime Provinces. The struggles and achievements of the Black Loyalists and their descendants are an important part of Canadian history. With this coin the RCM hopes to raise awareness and foster the diversity that has made their country strong.

“The Mint prides itself in crafting coins that pay tribute to Canada’s history, culture and values. That includes celebrating our diversity and acknowledging the difficult chapters of our history,” said Marie Lemay, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “We are proud to be issuing our third coin commemorating black history by recognizing the influential role Black Loyalists played in shaping the diverse country we know and love today.”

Black Loyalists faced many hardships and the promise of a better life often went unfulfilled. Those who remained in British North America despite the adversity, helped re-define Canada’s history and character. Today, the descendants of Black Loyalists can lay claim to an extraordinary legacy of courage and perseverance.

“Black Loyalists and their descendants have helped shape communities from coast to coast to coast from well before this land was even called Canada, and their legacy inspires us to build an even better and consciously more inclusive country,” said the Honorable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. “As we celebrate Black History Month, we recognize the struggles and obstacles that Black communities in Canada have had to overcome and continue to face, and we acknowledge and celebrate the enormous contributions they continue to make to the growth, well-being, and prosperity of this country.”

“As a Black Loyalist descendant, I am proud to say that my ancestors were some of the 3,500 people of African descent who came to Canada in 1783, carrying with pride their Certificate of Freedom,” said Cynthia Dorrington, Site Manager of the Black Loyalist Heritage Center. “They settled across Lower Canada, all with the hope of creating a better life for their families. Our rich history has been foundational in shaping Canada’s collective history and we are delighted to share it further on a beautiful silver coin.”

The coin’s reverse features a meticulous reproduction of the armorial bearings of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, the national organization dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of Black Loyalists in North America. These armorial bearings were granted to the Black Loyalist Heritage Society in 2006 by the Canadian Heraldic Authority and designed by Darrel E. Kennedy, Assiniboine Herald.

On the shield, three Loyalist civil coronets represent the non-combatants who fled to British North America (Canada), while the ship’s wheel represents both the past (the ships landing in 1783) and the present (the Society’s focus on community development). The lion supporters symbolize the pride of Africa and the courage demonstrated by those who sought a better life in Nova Scotia. Beneath the shield, the province is represented by its official floral emblem, the mayflower, while the rock symbolizes the landings near Birchtown, Nova Scotia. The anchor in the crest honors the sacrifices of the families who undertook the journey, which is represented by the footprints in the mantling. The motto “THE HEART OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE IS IN YOUR ROOTS” speaks to the Society members’ interest in their heritage.

In traditional Canadian fashion, the Black Loyalist Heritage Society armorial bearings are flanked by strings of maple leaves. The obverse features a repeating maple leaf field pattern and the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.

This proof .999 fine silver one ounce commemorative has a mintage limit of 5,500 pieces and retails for $78.60. Contact the Royal Canadian Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the US, or at www.mint.ca to order now.