Kwame Delfish and the Royal Canadian Mint start Black History Month

with the launch of a coin no one will spend

 By Stephen Weir

Kwame Delfish

By Stephen Weir

 Kwame Delfish, a well-known Toronto artist was the first Caribbean Canadian to design a coin for the Royal Canadian Mint. That was in 2015 and the solid silver $10 coin carries Delfish’s creative portrait of an iconic Canada.

It is a rare thing indeed for an artist to get a mint commission, let alone a second one. But that has happened! On February 1st, the start of Black History Month, the Mint unveiled Kwame Delfish’s second silver coin; a limited edition $20 tribute to Black History and The Underground Railroad.

“The employees of the Royal Canadian Mint are proud to once again add to the national celebration of Black History Month with a beautiful silver coin that brings the important story of the Underground Railroad to life,” said Marie Lemay, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “By remembering those who undertook the long and risky journey to escape slavery in the 19th century, as well as their brave and tireless guides, we are reminding ourselves that freedom is one of our most enduring values.” 

Kwame Delfish

“This coin is meant to honour and pay homage to the ancestral slaves that escaped to the North in search of freedom,” said Sc artist Kwame Delfish.  “Many did not get to complete the journey and faced the same (if not more) hardships than what they left behind. The ones that made it built their legacies and shaped the mosaic that Canada is today. My hope is that their strength and courage is illustrated on this coin, and that I have sung their gospel.”

Kwame has designed a coin that tells the story of the

Underground Railroad, that famous network of safe houses and secret routes that helped enslaved people of African descent escape to freedom in Canada in the 1850s and 1860s. The men, women and children following the Big Dipper constellation to guide their way north to freedom, are illustrated along the coin’s edge to create the sense of circular motion representing their long, continuous journey. 

Only 5,500 coins have been struck of this 2022 $20 fine silver coin. While the $20 coin is indeed real tender, all of Kwame’s coins will in all likelihood be snapped up by collectors and never spent. Each coin sells for $99.00 and here at the Caribbean Camera I already have my order in.

SIDEBAR: Kwame Delfish is deeply involved in the Scarborough art scene. He has long been involved in the arts as has his family. His father is a long-time organizer of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival Children’s Parade and the Junior King and Queen Showcase. His sister Akua Delfish is a co-founder of the Scarborough dance company D’Lyfe Dance Company (also known as Dance, Let Your Feet Explore). His brother Akil performs as Mr. Akil D, an important emerging DJ in the Toronto music scene.

The Royal Canadian Mint’s 2022 $20 Fine Silver Coin Commemorating Black History – The Underground Railroad (CNW Group/Royal Canadian Mint)