2023 Canada $20 Generations: Mi'kmaq Creation Story Fine Silver (No Tax)
The Creation story — the story of how life began for all things — is a foundational element of the Mi’kmaw culture and teachings, one that provides meaning and purpose while connecting each new generation to those of the past.
To the Mi’kmaq people, whose homeland (Mi’kma’ki) encompasses much of present-day Atlantic Canada, their Creation story expresses traditional beliefs, spirituality and core values, and emphasizes their relation with the natural world. According to the Mi’kmaq Creation Story, there was seven levels of creation, that began with Kisu’lk (the Giver of Life, above) and continued with Niskam (Grandfather Sun, within) and Wsitkamu (Mother Earth, below), all represented in the centre portion of the coin’s reverse. In the east is the fourth level, is of Kluskap (the first human being) created from a lightning bolt and earth elements. From there, the Mi’kmaq Creation Story unfolds in the cardinal directions south, west and north across the coin’s reverse that reflects the cyclical nature of the natural world, where everything has its own unique spirit, and where all must work in harmony with one another.
The number seven is significant: in addition to the seven levels of Creation, represented in the Mi’kmaq spiritual sacred ceremonies, there are seven districts that make up Mi’kma’ki, homeland of the Mi’kmaq, which stretches from Gaspésie (Quebec) to most of New Brunswick, all of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and includes parts of Newfoundland and Maine (United States).
Designed by Mi’kmaw artist Marcus Gosse (Ala’suinu - Traveller), the coin’s reverse illustrates the Mi’kmaq Creation Story, which explains the seven levels of Creation of life. The first three levels of Creation are combined in the centre portion: the first level is Kisu’lk, the Giver of Life (above), represented here by the stars of the universe; the second level, represented by the Mi’kmaq eight-pointed star, is Niskam, Grandfather Sun, who puts spirit into life (within); and the third level is Wsitkamu, Mother Earth (under), sustaining life (water, rocks, plants and a moose). In the east and to the right of the centre portion, the fourth level shows Kluskap, the first human being, created from a lightning bolt and visited by the eagle Kitpu, messenger to the Giver of life, and when he leaves a feather falls, which Kluskap catches before it touches the ground. Symbolic sacredness of the eagle feather. Moving in a clockwise direction, the fifth level (south) is Nukami, the Grandmother who owes her existence to a rock, she is wise and knowledgeable and brings teachings how to survive, she is with a marten that represents the first meal of meat cooked on the first fire. The sixth level (west) shows Netawansum, the Nephew, representing the youth, who owes his existence from elements of the sea, and he holds with a braid of sweetgrass; their second meal of fish. Finally, the seventh level (north) is Nekanakanim-Koosiskw, the Mother; she owes her existence to a leaf of a tree, she brings love, understanding and all the colours of the world, while the wigwam represents home. She will teach all her children to share and care for each other. The third meal is made of plants and berries to honour her arrival.
The Mi’kmaq Creation Story expresses the Mi’kmaw worldview and emphasizes the connectedness between all of Creation.
The obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt. The obverse also bears a special marking that includes four pearls symbolizing the four effigies that have graced Canadian coins and the double date of her reign.
Item Number: 208746
Composition: 99.99% pure silver
Weight: 31.39 g
Diameter: 38 mm
Face Value: $20
Artist: Marcus Gosse (reverse), Susannah Blunt (obverse)
• Coin #3. The annual Generations series celebrates the art, cultural beliefs and storytelling traditions of the First Peoples of Canada. It focuses on how these cultural expressions offer important lessons while imparting values that shape our understanding of the world, and of each other.
• An Intricately Crafted Story. A spellbinding origin story, the Mi’kmaq Creation Story is honoured and re-told on this fine silver coin’s reverse. Its design features an outstanding mix of intricately engraved details and motifs that reflect and express Mi’kmaw beliefs, and proudly celebrate the Mi’kmaw culture.
• A celebration of Mi'kmaw traditions! This is the Royal Canadian Mint’s first collaboration with Newfoundland Mi’kmaw artist Marcus Gosse (Ala’suinu - Traveller), whose paintings often incorporate the eight-pointed Mi’kmaq Star – a proud cultural symbol and emblem for many Mi’kmaq.
• A tradition of sharing. In the oral tradition, there is the expectation that the listener will learn about events, principles, values and a worldview. By combining Indigenous stories and art, this series seeks to honour Indigenous storytellers and the role they play in sharing traditional knowledge with new generations.
• Limited mintage! Crafted from 99.99% pure silver, the coin has a limited mintage of 5,500 worldwide.
The coin comes encapsulated and presented in a black Royal Canadian Mint-branded clamshell with black beauty box.