The Royal Canadian Mint is embroiled in a controversy with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Canadian organization representing four Inuit regions. This week, the RCM issued a $20 commemorative coin to mark the 125th anniversary of the establishment of research stations around the Arctic to share scientific data. It is referred to as the first international polar year. English explorer Martin Frobisher is featured on the reverse along with a 16th century ship and kayaker representing the Inuit people.

According to history, Frobisher lured an Inuit kayaker to his ship in order to bring him back to England for display. The Inuit are people indigenous of the Arctic regions of Canada and must have looked very different to the 16th century anglo-saxons from England. The captured Inuit died of disease in England.

ITK is asking the RCM to consult its organization when issuing coins about its people saying ignorance caused this mistake. The RCM is saying that they consulted experts and added the kayak as an acknowledgment of the Inuit being in the region and that it is not a commentary on those events. ITK is preparing a letter to the RCM about this coin.

Although I cannot find records of the RCM withdrawing coins, it is possible that they could cease the sale of this coin. Canada does have laws governing the fair treatment of people which could dictate what the RCM does. This is not a judgement on Canadian law. I am anticipating that if the coin does get withdraw, it will be a modern issue with a low mintage and an interesting history.

Time to go to the RCM website to order a few coins.

Image from the Royal Canadian Mint

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