Sault Ste. Marie royalty, Dr. Roberta Bondar was honoured today with a silver commemorative collector coin, struck by the Royal Canadian Mint. To mark the 25th anniversary of her flight & research aboard NASA Space Shuttle, ‘Discovery’, the neurologist, environmentalist, photographer, artist and champion for science education, was celebrated in a very unique way; An out of this world silver convex shaped coin, that recreates the curvature of planet Earth.
On January 22, 1992, Dr. Bondar made history when she became Canada’s first woman astronaut and the world’s first neurologist in space. Dr. Bondar was a crew member of Mission STS-42, Space Shuttle, ‘Discovery’.
Canadians can now celebrate her inspiring accomplishment with the world’s first ever curved and glow-in-the-dark coin. Dr. Bondar and Royal Canadian Mint President & CEO Sandra Hanington, as well as Christine Aquino, RCM’s Director Communications and Public Affairs, along with local dignitaries, Mayor Christian Provenzano, and MP Terry Sheehan, made the big reveal. Audible gasps could be heard as the coin’s beauty became evident to the entire room of people.
Photo luminescent elements were added to the coin. The reverse design by Canadian artist Alexandra Lefort combines colour with glow-in-the-dark effects. Recreating a view of Earth from space, with Canada as the centre, the outer band features Dr. Bondar’s name and text, and highlights the anniversary of her space mission. There is also a miniature depiction of the space Shuttle ‘Discovery’, as it appeared on the mission crest of STS-42 crew members.
“My view from Discovery 25 years ago forever changed my view of Earth and instilled in me a commitment to protect this magnificent planet. This special coin symbolizes the beauty of Earth from space. We need to celebrate our milestones and pioneers as we push the frontiers of discovery.” shared Dr. Bondar. “Glowing in the dark, the coin represents inspiration and hope for the future, and it is an honour to have my role in human space flight recognized in this meaningful way.”
“In the universe that we can reach and touch as human beings, it’s so special to us – It’s difficult to conceive of people not having an environmental ethic or an ethic to respect another individual. My world expanded because I had this broad vision when growing up – when I looked at the night skies over L. Superior and wondered what was amongst the stars. And then to actually be flying among the stars, and able to look down and thank my city of Sault Ste. Marie and the Great Lakes that touched me so much when I was growing up. We are surrounded by wonderful resources, and we have a place on this planet that it is quite extraordinary.”
“The Mint is proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Dr. Bondar’s historic mission with a coin as innovative as what she achieved for women and all of Canada.” said Sandra Hanington. “This new silver coin captures yet another story of a Canadian reaching for the stars and accomplishing things that will inspire us for generations to come.”
Oliver Karbonik, 3rd Year Aviation student, Sault College, was chosen by the college’s Board of Governors to introduce Dr. Bondar. Karbonik’s family emigrated to Canada from Snina Slovakia.
“My father, mother and I came to Canada when I was nine years old.” he said. “We came here to make sure that I had better opportunities than they had. Meeting Dr. Bondar today was a tremendous honour.”
Dr. Bondar concluded her remarks by saying, “I’m a cheerleader for women and a role model for men.”
A pre-recorded video was played with a congratulatory message from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, who is also a former citizen from Sault Ste. Marie.
Dr. Bondar is kept very busy with the work of The Roberta Bondar Foundation. The RBF’s mission is to build healthier lives by protecting the natural heritage of our planet. By connecting people to nature through photography, the foundation aims to promote good health while protecting the planet.
Dr. Bondar told saultonline, “The Foundation currently has an (photography) exhibit showing in the Cambridge Butterfly Museum, and coming up, there will be an exhibit at the Woodstock Art Gallery, and next year at The Guelph Art Gallery.”
“For Canada 150, (in 2017) a special exhibit is being planned that is meant to reflect the country of Canada in large images.” Dr. Bondar said that twelve institutions are already confirmed to host the exhibit, and that she is hoping to bring the collection to Sault Ste. Marie.
‘The 2017 $25.00 Fine Silver Coin – A View of Canada from Space, has limited mintage of 8,500 and retails for $159.95. It can be purchased as of today by contacting the RCM at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the U.S. or online at www.mint.ca. Coins can also be purchased at participating Canada Post outlets.’ (www.mint.ca)