A Lakehead University student from Couchiching First Nation was selected by the Royal Canadian Mint to design a new silver- and gold-plated coin that is meant to honour the heroic Shawnee war leader, Tecumseh.
This year marks the 250th anniversary of Tecumseh's birth.
The indigenous chief is recognized in Canadian history for fighting for the well-being of his people during the War of 1812.
Mary McPherson, a fourth-year art student, created the coin last summer and it was released to the public on Sept. 4.
“I am very honoured to have been able to do it and I learned a lot from the process, too,” she noted.
“It's unlike any project I've ever done before because of the nature of it,” McPherson added.
“Designing a coin is a much different process than what I usually do with my artwork.”
McPherson strives to create photo-realism style pieces of art and hopes to continue to hone her craft as she finishes her last year at Lakehead University.
She was approached by the Royal Canadian Mint and offered the opportunity to be a candidate in the selection process in the middle of last year.
She submitted her design and was blown away when she found out she had been designing the brand-new commemorative Canadian coin.
“I was really surprised because I haven't had an opportunity like that before,” she remarked.
“So when I was first approached, I felt pretty shocked and very honoured.”
During the process, McPherson said she learned a lot about Tecumseh and the role he played in the War of 1812.
“Tecumseh had fought for his own people and their well-being,” she explained.
“He had also united indigenous nations against a lot of the divide-and-conquer tactics that were being used at that time.”
McPherson said Tecumseh sided with British in the war against the Americans because they were the lesser of two evils.
“I also learned how he fought for the land,” she added.
“The land should be shared among everyone and not owned particularly by one group of people.”
The parts of Tecumseh's story that really resonated with McPherson was the leadership he provided, unity for his people, and respect for the land.
She really enjoyed working with the Royal Canadian Mint and feels blessed to have been able to share her art with the world.
The coins now are available to be purchased from the Royal Canadian Mint's website for $129.95.