Canada is getting a new $1 coin next year, and the design will celebrate an important moment in queer Canadian history. For much of Canadian history, same-sex sexual activity was a criminal act. This changed in 1969, when Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, changed the Canadian Criminal Code to decriminalize gay sex.
The new coins will carry the dates 1969 and 2019 to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the historic change. This coin is particularly important in light of Canada’s fraught history when it comes to respecting queer people. In the 1960’s, Canada tried to eliminate LGBTQ workers from the civil service and the police force, and laws were enacted in 1948 and 1961 to criminalize gay sex.
This is not the first time Trudeau has focused on LGBTQ history. In 2017, he apologized on behalf of Canada for the country’s history of anti-queer discrimination and developed a program by which Canadians charged under the anti-gay laws could have their records expunged. Additionally, former civil servants who were negatively affected by the program to purge queer workers can apply for reparation payments from the government.
The new coin’s exact design will not be revealed until the coin is released so that The Royal Canadian Mint can “maximize the impact” of the design. The design is described as a “stylized rendering of two overlapping human faces within a large circle, the left half of the left face in front view and the right face in profile facing left, the two faces forming one whole face in front view composed of two eyes with eyebrows, a nose, a mouth and two ears with a small hoop earring on the left ear.” The coin will also have the word “equality” written in both English and French.