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A tradition of recognition and the gratitude of a nation

Since 1908, we have earned a highly regarded reputation for the quality, craftsmanship and innovation of our circulation and numismatic coins. But did you know our award-winning team of engravers, engineers and craftspeople have also been manufacturing highly regarded medals since the early 1930's?

One of the institutions we create medals for is the Directorate of Honours and Recognition (DH&R) at the Department of National Defence (DND). DND supports the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) who serve on the sea, on land, and in the air to defend Canadians’ interests at home and abroad.

Within DND, Directorate of Honours and Recognition is responsible for the appropriate and timely recognition of the bravery, merit, service and sacrifice of members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Whether serving, retired, deceased, or part of a certain civilian group, DH&R ensures they are acknowledged for their service. This is done through higher decorations for gallantry in combat, bravery in the face of danger, or merit, as well as campaign medals for service in operations and missions, long service, and the recognition of sacrifices.

Leading the Directorate of Honours and Recognition at DND is Lieutenant-Colonel Carl Gauthier. Lt.-Col Gauthier has been with DH&R since 2002, initially as the Policy and Operations Advisor, and has been its Director since 2013. Having a long service record, he was the Wing Heritage Officer at 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec (1997-2002) and a Cadet Instructor at 736 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron in Mont-Joli, QC (1994-1997).

We connected with Lt.-Col. Gauthier to learn more about the importance of recognizing members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the vital role the Mint plays in this mission.

Mint: Why are medals so important to members of CAF?

Recognition in military context is very important for the morale and spirit of the troops. That’s how we motivate people. For us, we wear our resume on our chest; it’s like a resume in colours. For people in uniform it is very important, it’s part of the tradition of our identity. When we award these medals, these symbols of gratitude, the quality of the item we give on behalf of crown and country has to convey that message of gratitude in a suitable way. It has to be something of quality, something of beauty, and something that links back to the past. The recipients of today want to see the connection with the medals that their fathers, grandfathers, and even great-grandfathers earned in previous conflicts and wars, so that when they hang them over the fireplace, they see that continued connection of military service and recognition for service rendered in uniform.

Mint: How many medals do you award annually?

With all the various types of medals I mentioned, it’s a significant volume of decorations that we issue every year. Just in terms of campaign and service medals for serving, retired, and deceased members, we issue between 15,000 - 18,000 from our small team, with help from the Mint.

Mint: How does the Mint help your team?

The Royal Canadian Mint is a vital partner to us in accomplishing our mission. The medals are a physical form of recognition. They are basically a tangible representation of the gratitude of the nation for the bravery, the service, and the sacrifice of our members. We have to make sure this symbol is of the highest quality, is ready on time, and is consistent in its manufacturing. The Mint has much experience and expertise in creating these sorts of objects. The quality of the materials, the workmanship that goes into crafting each individual medal, the security of these pieces, the consistency of their aesthetic, and timeliness of their delivery are all key pillars the Mint has provided our team.


Continuing the tradition

The Mint’s proud tradition of helping to recognize the service and sacrifice of members of the Canadian Armed Forces not only takes shape in the medals our team creates, but also in our commemorative circulation coin program, which has a long history of paying tribute to the efforts of Canadian Veterans that fought with bravery for our freedom.

This year we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War with a pair of commemorative $2 coins. Learn more about how you can honour the memory of Canadians and hold on to their bravery.

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