It was that simple in my mind, take your gold and turn it into coins. Now I won’t bog you down with details about how to incorporate the Yukon Mint®, trademark the Yukon Mint® or how to set up a refinery account and find a coin designer, all while ensuring the coins are actually made from your green gold and not mixed with gold from jurisdiction full of child labour, conflict and chemicals. But the design, that was what would become the key driver of the Yukon Mint®. It would have First Nation art on one side and the stampeders going over the Chilkoot Pass, an iconic image to the Klondike Gold Rush, on the other side. We would involve the community, involve the First Nation, merge cultures, showcase First Nation art and make sure local artists benefitted from our exploration activities on their land.
With this idea in hand, we started what became an annual design contest and made the decision that the contest was only open to artists from the First Nation whose traditional territory we operate in, meaning the Kaska Nation on this particular project. I love the work of Kaska artists and you will find no shortage of it in my house, it all made perfect sense.
Miranda Lane, an absolutely wonderful woman, won the 1st contest, which she found out about from the Chief of the Liard First Nation. I had never met her before she won the contest and to this day she still feels like a sister, we clicked immediately. Named Keda, the coin is beautiful. The artists, starting from Miranda and later including several other Kaska artists over several years, all received a cash payment plus gold coins featuring their art. I have Miranda’s art in my home and I think of her every time I walk by the painting. I also have Gord Peters, with his carving featured on a gold coin….and Dennis Shorty (mentioned earlier). The coin and the art are a source of pride and I am thankful we managed to feature these artists on gold from their traditional territory. And proud of the idea that created this benefit.
In the end, as businesses have starts and stops, my idea was good but not great. Yes, it achieved my goals to be more involved in the community and ensure as many benefits as possible are presented from our work. But, the sales pool in the Yukon is small and the community interest was minimal beyond the First Nation. It was not a strong business case and sales were slow, but we did sell out all coins. Golden Predator merged with another company, and as it’s hard to keep a good idea down, I took the Mint with me and own the rights. I still think it was one of my best ideas yet. I am sure we all will see the Yukon Mint® re-emerge, probably not in the Yukon but in other pastures of opportunity. Just wait, and watch.