For the first time, the Royal Canadian Mint is producing a wearable medal — and it is to honour the essential workers and everyday heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 Recognition Medal, just smaller than a quarter, features on one side a heart and maple leaf icon, representing "the collective spirit of Canadians" while on the flip side are three people coming together to embrace with a maple leaf behind them and a heart in the centre. The text on it says Thank You and Merci while the micro-mirrors which make up the maple leaf produce a pulsating light effect to represent "Canada’s strong heartbeat".
Because the medal is made with steel on the inside with nickel-plating over it, and comes with a magnet, it can be worn.
The mint has produced 150,000 medals, which are being released today and selling for $9.95. They can be purchased online at at www.mint.ca, by phone at 1-800-267-1871, Canada Post locations, and branches of TD Canada Trust and the CIBC.
Mint officials say it is able to donate about half of the selling price to Breakfast Club of Canada’s emergency funding in support of children and families suffering food insecurity during the pandemic.
That’s because not only did the mint use repurposed materials for the medal, but its employees donated their time, skills and expertise to produce and package it.
Andrew Ellsworth, who oversees a team of 15 people in the mint’s metal plating facility here in Winnipeg, said not only did he volunteer to pack and put together the packaging that goes with the medal, his wife Jennifer, and children Madelaine, 13, and Nathan, 15, also joined in.
"I’ve been working at the mint for 22 years and I’ve never seen something like this," Ellsworth said.
"It even gave the kids something to do to help."
Madelaine said she was glad to help with the effort because the people the medal is honouring "are helping out and doing it for a good cause" while Nathan said "it was a fun experience and worthwhile and was for a very food cause."
Ellsworth said his wife was also honoured to help because, in her job, she sees front line workers in health care.
Marie Lemay, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, said more than 250 mint employees were involved volunteering their time in both Winnipeg and Ottawa.
"It was just amazing," Lemay said. "We have a pretty passionate group of people."
Lemay said 150,000 have been produced but, depending on how popular they are, they could produce more.
"This is just a beautiful piece," she said. "The creation, the design, the tooling - everyone just put such passion into it.
"There’s no reason for anyone not to buy it."
And Lemay said the medals will also be available for purchase at the Winnipeg Mint’s boutique when it reopens on July 6.
In a statement, Breakfast Club president and founder Daniel Germain said "we have been responsive to the needs of hundreds of thousands of children for the past 25 years and we are proud to have upheld this tradition during these challenging times.
So far the organization’s emergency fund has paid out more than $8 million to 900 schools and community organizations across the country to help distribute food or give grocery store gift cards to people.
"But our work is far from done," Germain said. "It is an honour for us to be considered by the Royal Canadian Mint as a quiet force supporting children and families across the country."
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