Royal Canadian Mint issues Nunavut gold collector coin to commemorate 20th anniversary of Arctic territory

The work of Nunavut artist Germaine Arnaktauyok is featured on a new collector coin from the Royal Canadian Mint. (Royal Canadian Mint)
The Royal Canadian Mint has issued a collector coin to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, and made the coin with gold mined from the region.

Nunavut celebrated its 20th anniversary on April 1 of this year. On that date in 1999, the territory was created out of the eastern part of Canada’s Northwest Territories, a region with a majority Inuit population.

This year’s collector coin, with a face value of $20, features the image of an Inuit drum dancer on one side, along with the word Nunavut written in both the Latin alphabet and in the syllabic orthography used for the main Inuit language dialect used in the territory, Inuktitut.

Nunavut artist featured

The drum dancer image, created by Germaine Arnaktauyok from the Nunavut community of Igloolik, is the same image used on a $2 circulation coin issued at the time of Nunavut’s creation in 1999.

“It’s a great work of art from a renowned Inuit artist,” said Alex Reeves, the senior manager of public affairs at the Royal Canadian Mint, in a phone interview. 

The road to the Meadowbank Mine in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. The gold in a new commemorative coin was mined here and in Hope Bay in western Nunavut. (Eye on the Arctic)

“Using the design that was issued in 1999 and breathing new life into it on a pure gold coin this time, instead of a circulation coin, is a nice way to pay tribute to the territory of course and to its many talented artists as well.”

Arctic gold

The coin is made of gold mined at Agnico Eagle Mines’ Meadowbank Mine, near the Nunavut community of Baker Lake, and from the TMAC Resources’ mine near Hope Bay in the western region of the territory.

“We decided it would be really nice to come up with a coin that celebrated the territory and promoted its reputation as a gold producer,” Reeves said.

There are 1,500 of the limited edition coins for sale. They cost $359.95 and are available on the mint’s website:

Feature Interview
(Royal Canadian Mint)
For more of Eye on the Arctic‘s conversation with Alex Reeves from the Royal Canadian Mint, listen here:

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit art featured on new Canadian banknote, Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  London gallery offers multimedia Sámi art, Yle News

Greenland: Canadian artist explores Greenland’s past, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Karelian art on show in Russia, Yle News

Sweden:  Swedish Sámi visual artist shaping climate changes, Radio Sweden

United States:  ‘I Am Inuit’ goes from Instagram to museum in Anchorage, Alaska, Alaska Public Radio Network

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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