Red Cross Volunteer Shoulder Patch and Pins

Date / Period
Mid- to late-20th century
Object Type
Badges, Pins, Medals and Stamps
Canadian Red Cross
Volunteers and Aid Workers

From the very beginning, the Canadian Red Cross relied on volunteers to accomplish its mission of mercy. Canadians who gave their time, energy, skills, and resources to the organization were proud to do so, and wore pins or armbands like these in order to publicly identify themselves and their work. 

Nothing is known about the original owner(s) of this armband and these pins, nor when or where they were used. However, their appearance suggests they were probably created sometime between the 1940s and 1980s. Their anonymity testifies to the long history of Canadians working together to help those in need. 

Since 1864, international law has stated that in war zones the red cross emblem confers neutrality upon  its wearers. The emblem has gained other (unofficial) meanings as well: in disaster-stricken regions, for example, a red cross patch like this identifies its wearer with caring, safety, and help. 

“The value of one. The power of many.”

The Canadian Red Cross quickly appealed beyond the men with military and medical backgrounds who founded it in 1896. The society’s work during the Boer War (1899-1902) attracted its first women volunteers. Then the First World War (1914-18) drew into the Red Cross fold Canadians from across the country representing many age groups, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and religious beliefs. 

During the First and Second (1939-45) World Wars in particular, Canadians highly valued voluntary  service for the Red Cross. On the homefront, volunteers who did not have an official uniform often created their own homemade versions by sewing red crosses onto armbands, aprons, or knitting bags. 

After the end of each of the two World Wars, a diverse array of Canadians continued to volunteer with the Red Cross. Some were drawn by its humanitarian ideals, while others wanted to help provide a specific program or service in their community. Either way, their immense importance is best summarized by a slogan used during the United Nations’ International Year of Volunteers (2001): “The value of one. The power of many.”   

Red Cross Volunteer Shoulder Patch and Pins

Red Cross Volunteer Armband and Pins
Canadian Red Cross volunteer shoulder patch and emergency reserve and volunteer worker pins donated to the Canadian Red Cross Society by Mr. A. Rosen, October 7, 1985
CPR Instruction
Canadian Red Cross volunteer
Canadian Red Cross volunteer's jacket

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