Medals NEWS 5/2008

Honours and Recognition Newsletter
Vol. 2 Issue 3, May 2008

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Picture of the Victoria Cross medal

The Canadian VC, now a reality

On 16 May 2008, the Governor General unveiled the first Canadian Victoria Cross (VC) at Rideau Hall. While the decoration, the highest Canadian honour, has been in existence on paper and in artwork since the early 1990s, it was only manufactured recently. Given the historical importance and mystique of the VC, much thought and research went into the concept finally agreed upon. This concept maintains a tangible link with history, the original VC and its Canadian recipients; it creates a link with the birth of our nation and bridges this history with the present and future.

Canadian Content

The original British VC, created by Queen Victoria in 1856, was awarded to 81 members of Canada’s military between its creation and 1945. The VC was made using metal from captured enemy guns and it was deemed vital to maintain a link with this rich heritage in the new decoration. It was therefore decided that the Canadian VC would be made in Canada and that it would be made out of a special alloy which includes three sources of metal:


1867 Confederation Medal (reverse) and
metal from the source of the original V.C.'s.

The design of the Canadian VC is almost identical to its predecessor, the only major difference being the motto, which has been changed from FOR VALOUR to the Latin PRO VALORE.

Can it be awarded?

The VC is the highest of the three Military Valour Decorations which were created in 1992 to recognize acts of valour, self-sacrifice or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. The other two levels are the Star of Military Valour (SMV) and the Medal of Military Valour (MMV). The criteria for award of the Canadian VC is identical to the British VC and also to the VCs of Australia and New Zealand. Many are under the impression that the VC could not be awarded in relation to the present operations in Afghanistan because Canada is not in an officially declared war. This is not the case, the Military Valour Decorations may be used in situations short of war if the troops are in combat with an armed enemy recognized as such by the Canadian people. These conditions have been met in Afghanistan, hence the award of SMVs and MMVs since October 2006. To award the extremely rare VC however, one must meet the criteria and as can bee seen with the recent awards of the VC for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (Pte J.G. Beharry and Cpl B.J. Budd of the UK and Cpl B.H. Apiata of New Zealand), the standard is extremely high. If one does meet the criteria however, Canada is now ready to recognize the deed with its own VC.


Ingot of alloy to be used in the production of Canadian V.C.'s.

Issued by the Directorate of Honours and Recognition (DH&R) 16 May 2008
Telephone 1-877-741-8332