Challenge Coins: First Appearance in Canada

Posted: February 11th, 2015, by Frank Smith

A morale boost and sign of membership are just among the few purposes that challenge coins were made for. These coins have served to be a very important part of many organizations. They bring members of the organizations closer to each other, which concept dates back during World War I. These coins are made to last for several decades, and if you see one, it’s certain that the one who’s keeping it has great memories of what he’s done for the organization he once belonged to.


Stories from different parts of the world have been told, telling where exactly these coins originated, though no one is really sure how they exactly came to be. However, these became very popular since they became one of the most significant tokens used in the military, especially in Canada.


Challenge CoinsChallenge coins served great importance within the members of the CF (Canadian Forces). While the concept behind these coins begun before the 1970s, it only became official after the Canadian Airborne Regiment came back from Cyprus, which was in 1974.


Way back then, the CF were unfamiliar to what these coins actually represented, with many regarding it as a form of “Americanism”. The concept was then introduced to the organization by Gen. Rick Hillier during the period where the United States and Canadian Military were working in conjunction. These coins were bought by military establishments and regiments as what they’re recognized as, but they were used for purposes of presentation by schools inside the CF.


The thing is that these coins were issued to each new member of the CF’s military college after he finishes orientation in his first year. The college’s name was engraved in both English and French, surrounding the school’s coat of arms. The college’s Memorial Arch and the cadet’s school number are written on the back side of the coin, with the motto, printed in English and French, surrounding them.


These challenge coins were issued to those of the CF’s branch providing support for army engineering maintenance. On the coins’ obverse side, the RCEME badge, together with the member’s number, is engraved. On the coins’ reverse side, you can see the old RCEME badge, as well as the motto of the branch. More often than not, the coins were given to the CF School of Elec. and Mech. Engineering, where they first offer branch fund membership.


A lot of the staff colleges and training centers within the CF have unique coins. There are some that are made available for students who want to buy them. There are others, though, that are exclusively available when being presented by the Commandant or the establishment to members who’ve accomplished a remarkable deed worthy of recognition. The issuance of these coins is often made by Gen. Walter Natynczyk to soldiers who are deserving of this acknowledgement.


In Canada, the issuance of these challenge coins held great significance among the members of the security, fire, and police departments. These coins have served to create a sense of belonging and brotherhood among the organization, which was not limited to institutions that are focused on the fighting forces and government defence.


A lot of NGO’s, churches, and colleges have since been using these coins for various purposes not limited to recognizing one member’s exemplary performance. In some cases, groups who run campaigns against specific issues wear such coins to present to the public and the concerned departments how they’re fully aware of the situation and how the issues could be resolved. Companies, on the other hand, primarily use these coins as awards and handed on to members of the corporation who’ve been outstanding during their duty.


Challenge coins served great importance within the members of the CF (Canadian Forces).

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