Royal Canadian Mint Commemorates Black History With Silver Coin
The Royal Canadian Mint has released a commemorative $20 fine silver coin as a tribute to the historic community of Amber Valley, as part of their ongoing series, "Commemorating Black History."
The 2024 Commemorating Black History coin highlights a significant narrative from Canada's immigration history. Its intricately engraved reverse depicts the essence of Amber Valley, one of the largest Black settlements in western Canada during the early 20th century. The coin pays tribute to the Black pioneers who navigated challenges and adversity, overcoming discrimination to establish a strong foundation for future generations.
The majority of settlers in Amber Valley sought refuge from increasing racial violence and segregation in the southern United States. Motivated by the Canadian government's offer of affordable land, founding families migrated north in 1910. They crossed the border and travelled by train to Edmonton before embarking on a wagon train journey to Pine Creek. There, they commenced the arduous task of cultivating the land and establishing a new community from scratch.
The initial group of Black settlers faced severe weather conditions, spent lengthy hours clearing land that had been abandoned by European homesteaders, and encountered racial animosity, resulting in the active discouragement of Black immigration to Canada by 1912. Despite these challenges, the inhabitants of Pine Creek, later renamed Amber Valley in 1931, persisted. This northernmost all-Black community in Canada flourished, reaching its peak population of 300 residents.
"The Royal Canadian Mint is proud to contribute to the national celebration of Canada's Black History Month through a continuing series of silver collector coins that captures important stories that define our shared heritage," said Marie Lemay, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. "We are delighted to share the inspiring story of Amber Valley and the pioneering Black settlers who succeeded in building a new life in a new land, as yet another example of the spirit and resilience of Black communities across Canada."
“I appreciate the recognition this coin represents. The Black Settlers of Amber Valley are indeed deserving of this recognition, which includes both my paternal and maternal grandparents as well as my parents.” said Myrna Wisdom, historian and co-founder of The Black Settlers of Alberta and Saskatchewan Historical Society.
The reverse design of the coin, crafted by artist Valentine De Landro, portrays an imagined scene of a homesteader family arriving in Pine Creek, Alta., in 1909, surveying the land that would eventually become Amber Valley. Enhanced with maple leaves and a map outline of Alberta, the design captures the essence of pioneering spirit as a wagon train of settlers concludes their arduous journey from the southern United States.
“For the composition, I needed to find a balance between what I thought were two prevailing characteristics: the journey and the community. The pioneering imagery was essential to communicating the spirit of Amber Valley, crossing through harsh terrain to reach a virtually unknown destination and to begin a legacy centred on the goal of a better life for their family; that idea is reflected in the posture and presence of the figures at the core of this design. The flourish on its base represents the terrain that the settlers had to tame and cultivate to build Amber Valley. Also, I wanted to leverage imagery from ads used to attract settlers to "Canada West"—ads that typically featured floral ornamental borders and frames” said Valentine De Landro.
On the obverse side of the coin, there's the Susanna Blunt-designed transitional effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. Notably, it includes a unique marking—a vertical inscription featuring the dates "1952" and "2022", with four pearls in between. These pearls symbolize the four effigies that have appeared on Canadian coins during the Queen's reign.
With a limited mintage of 5,500, the 2024 $20 Fine Silver Coin - Commemorating Black History can be ordered from Sprott Money Collectibles website soon.