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Canada issues dollar in commemoration of Klondike Gold Rush Anniversary

Canada's most recent circulating commemorative Dollar coin offers an historical lesson about the Yukon Gold Rush.

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Canada issues dollar in commemoration of Klondike Gold Rush Anniversary

The Klondike Gold Rush story is well-known. Keish (Skookum Jim Mason), along with his partners, discovered gold in Bonanza Creek. Local prospectors became rich; adventurers who hoped to strike it rich poured into Yukon Territory by thousands. Dawson City was a legendary boomtown. Fortunes were made and lost.

The Royal Canadian Mint released the 2021 coin on the 125th anniversary the discovery of gold at Klondike. It did so to remind Canadians of a deeper story, one that "speaks to the impact of the Indigenous people who have inhabited this land for millennia," according to a press release. Their displacement, disruption of their culture, traditional ways of living, and the environmental damage are all legacies from the "last great gold rush". The resilience of the Yukon First Nations, who continue to be strong stewards and leaders of the Yukon, is another testament of this 'last great' gold rush.

Sandy Silver, Yukon premier, stated that the Klondike Gold Rush is as central to the Yukon’s history and fame as it is to its Yukon's fame. However, the Yukon's portrayal of the Klondike Gold Rush has been often simplistic and narrow. "The inclusion of the Carcross/Tagish, Tr'ondek Hwech’in First Nations perspectives into the design and spirit this coin is a significant step in acknowledging a long-forgotten truth in the Gold Rush story."

Jori van der Linde, a Vancouver artist, designed the Yukon dollar's reverse. It shows the four people who were credited with discovering gold in Rabbit Creek, which triggered the Klondike Gold Rush of August 1896. They are Keish (Skookum James Mason), KaaGoox (Dawson Charlie), Shaaw Taa (Kate Carmack), and George Carmack, her husband.

An image of the Moosehide Gathering Place, the place where the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation was relocated after it was displaced from the gold rushers, is found on a hillside. It is now a symbol of the community's experiences.

The Klondike Gold Rush was a major catalyst for Yukon's economic development, and Canada as a whole. However, it also changed the landscape forever. It uprooted and suppressed the traditional ways of life of Indigenous peoples who had lived in the area for many millennia before the arrival of settlers.

Today, the legacy of Yukon's former Yukon Indian communities is still a challenge for many.

There are 2 million color versions and 1,000,000 plain versions of each coin. The Moosehide Gathering Place icon is shown in red on the colored coins.

The reverse features Queen Elizabeth II's effigy, designed by Susannablunt.

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