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Governor General of Canada / Gouverneur général du Canadaa




Report on Performance

The governor general has various duties that span his or her area of responsibility. These range from fulfilling constitutional and State responsibilities, to bringing Canadians together, to honouring Canadians and recognizing excellence. The following provides a summary of the Governor General's activities and results achieved over the past year, consistent with these areas.

Constitutional Responsibilities

The Governor General's constitutional responsibilities and her fulfillment of these responsibilities in 2005-06 are as follows:

  • Summon, prorogue, and dissolve Parliament and deliver the Speech from the Throne. On November 29, 2005 Prime Minister Paul Martin formally requested the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of a federal election. This request was granted by the Governor General and an election was held on January 23, 2006. On February 6, 2006, Her Excellency approved the summoning of a new Parliament, to meet on the 3rd day of April 2006. 
  • Ensure that Canada always has a prime minister. After the election, following the resignation of Prime Minister Martin, the Governor General invited the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Stephen Harper, to form a government.
  • Swearing-in of Cabinet members and privy councillors. Along with swearing in the Prime Minister, the Governor General also swore in the members of the 28th Ministry on February 6, 2006, after having sworn in newcomers to the Privy Council. Her Excellency also swore in the following additional privy councillors in two separate ceremonies: John Reynolds on February 6, 2006, and Jay D. Hill on February 16, 2006. 
  • Grant Royal Assent to government legislation. In 2005-06, the Governor General granted Royal Assent to 37 government bills and four private members’ bills, including:
    • An Act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (Bill C-15)
    • An Act to establish the Canada Border Services Agency (Bill C-26)
    • An Act to provide services, assistance and compensation to or in respect of Canadian Forces members and veterans and to make amendments to certain Acts (Bill C-45)
    • An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons) (Bill C-49)
    • An Act to provide first nations with the option of managing and regulating oil and gas exploration and exploitation and of receiving moneys otherwise held for them by Canada (Bill C-54)
  • Issue Orders in Council. In 2005-06, the Governor General approved 2,046 Orders in Council.

Responsibilities as Head of State

The Governor General's responsibilities as head of State and her fulfillment of these responsibilities in 2005-06 are as follows:

  • Welcome and host world leaders. A State visit to Canada takes place at the invitation of the governor general on the advice and request of the prime minister. Canada usually hosts four or five State visits a year, although this number can fluctuate greatly due to national elections and other domestic considerations. While a State visit may last for a week or more, the official visit to Ottawa normally lasts approximately two days. The governor general typically hosts a visiting head of State and his or her accompanying party at Rideau Hall. This includes an official welcoming ceremony with a military guard of honour and 21-gun salute, the exchange of official gifts, meetings between the heads of State, and State functions. In 2005-06, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson hosted His Excellency Amadou Toumani Touré, President of the Republic of Mali, during his State visit to Canada. Governor General Clarkson also welcomed His Excellency Hu Jintao, President of the People’s Republic of China.
  • Receive letters of credence or commission from foreign heads of mission. Letters of credence or commission are the formal documents by which a head of State introduces a new head of a diplomatic mission to the head of State of the receiving country. There are over 120 foreign heads of mission accredited to Canada, and, in 2005-06, the Governor General received the letters of credence or commission of 29 of these individuals, 14 during Governor General Clarkson’s mandate and 15 during Governor General Jean’s mandate.
  • Confirm the appointment of Canadian heads of mission to be posted abroad. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor General approved the appointment of 47 Canadian heads of mission in this year, including one special ambassador appointment.
  • Represent Canada abroad. Governors general have travelled to represent Canada abroad ever since Lord Elgin went to Washington in 1854. It is customary for State visits to be made at the invitation of the host country. The first official State visit by a governor general of Canada took place in 1926, when Lord Willingdon travelled, also to Washington, at the invitation of President Calvin Coolidge. State visits by the governor general to foreign countries are an important instrument of Canadian foreign policy and are carried out at the request of the prime minister on the advice of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT). Since His Excellency the Right Honourable Roland Michener's mandate (1967-74), State visits have been a significant component of the governor general's program. As of 2006, Canada's governors general had conducted 46 State visits abroad, but no State visits took place in the 2005-06 fiscal year. With the assistance of DFAIT and Canadian embassies in the relevant countries, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and her successor Governor General Michaëlle Jean represented Canada abroad on the following occasions:
    • At official ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands (Madame Clarkson);
    • At the mass for the solemn inauguration of the pontificate of Benedict XVI in Italy (Madame Clarkson);
    • At official ceremonies commemorating the May 9th Patriotic Great Patriotic War Victory Day in Russia (Madame Clarkson);
    • At the closing ceremonies of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Italy (Madame Jean);
    • At the swearing-in of President Michelle Bachelet in Chile (Madame Jean).

The successive governors general further supported Canada's international relations by meeting with the presidents of Germany, Poland, Italy, and Chile; the Prime Minister of New Zealand; Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands; and with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

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As commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces, the governor general maintains an active interest in the activities of the Forces by visiting units and bases and by participating in military ceremonies. The governor general is often invited to attend ceremonies marking important milestones in the history of military units and formations in all branches of the service. These events can include the presentation of colours, the opening of new facilities, or commemorative ceremonies on the occasion of special anniversaries. Visits to military units can be combined with regional visits. The governor general also visits members of the Canadian Forces serving on missions abroad. In their role as commander-in-chief in 2005-06, the successive governors general took part in the following activities:

Madame Clarkson:

  • Participated in the Farewell Ceremony on Parliament Hill;
  • Bid farewell to troops deploying to Afghanistan; and
  • Attended the Armed Forces Council.

Madame Jean:

  • Inspected the troops at the Installation Ceremony on Parliament Hill;
  • Took part in the ceremony for the Installation of the Seventh Book of Remembrance on Remembrance Day;
  • Inspected the troops at the Speech from the Throne and at the national Remembrance Day ceremony;
  • Visited HMCS Vancouver during her visit to Vancouver to attend a Grey Cup football game;
  • Participated in the repatriation ceremony for the return of a fallen soldier from Afghanistan; and
  • Became Patron of the Military Family Resource Centre.

Bringing Canadians Together

The governor general has an important traditional role in promoting national identity and unity. This is accomplished through visits to Canadian communities, events that the governor general hosts at the official residences, and the visitors' program in place at both official residences.

Visits to Canadian communities

Visits to Canadian communities are based on various themes consistent with Their Excellencies' interests and create opportunities for the governor general to meet Canadians in communities across the country—at times in communities never visited by previous governors general. A full and varied program of events is developed for these visits, often in response to the more than 2,000 invitations received annually from municipalities, schools, non-profit organizations and individuals. This volume represents a 25 percent increase from 2004-05.

In 2005-06, the successive governors general and their spouses visited over 28 communities in Canada (Madame Clarkson and John Ralston Saul: 20, Madame Jean and Jean-Daniel Lafond: 8). During these visits, they participated in a wide range of activities, from large-scale public events such as citizenship ceremonies, to school visits, visits featuring innovative community projects, and round‑table discussions on youth, women’s issues and other social issues critical to the communities visited.

In October 2005, Governor General Jean began her official provincial/territorial visits by travelling to Manitoba. She continued on to visit Prince Edward Island in November 2005, Quebec and Ontario in February 2006, and British Columbia in March 2006. These provincial visits incorporated such varied program elements as Caring Canadian Award presentations; and discussions with Aboriginal leaders, women at risk, immigrants and new Canadians, community leaders, social workers and youth. The Governor General opened the Magnetic North Theatre Festival as well as the Northern Voices Festival.

Events by invitation held at the official residences

The governor general's program includes hosting a wide range of events at the official residences: Rideau Hall in Ottawa and the Citadelle in Quebec City. These events relate not only to the traditional, constitutional, State and ceremonial roles and responsibilities of the governor general, but also to the Canadian honours program.

In addition to the events listed below, others this year included receptions and events for a diverse array of organizations such as the Royal Canadian Academy, the parliamentary Interns and Senate pages, the Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, CanSpell finalists, the Nunavut Youth Abroad Program and the Nunavut Sivuniksavut Training Program. The Governor General also launched the annual poppy and daffodil campaigns.

These events require extensive planning and organization to ensure that the ceremonial aspects are meaningful. In 2005-06, more than 7,500 people attended 74 such events held at Rideau Hall, and more than 360 people attended 4 events held at the Citadelle.

Whether it is lunch for a group of new citizens, a reception for war brides, refreshments for a garden party, dinner for national awards recipients or a formal State luncheon, the hospitality offered at the official residences of the governor general reflects the excellent quality of Canadian products from coast to coast to coast. Offering hospitality is a traditional way of receiving guests and an important part of the role of the governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada. Culinary creations at the official residences are based on distinctively Canadian ingredients that are fresh, seasonal and organic. Only wines from Canada's two primary wine-producing regions—the Niagara Region in Ontario and the Okanagan Region in British Columbia—are served at official events. The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG) is committed to showcasing the excellence of Canadian food and wine at Rideau Hall, at the Citadelle, and at events across the country and abroad.

The following is a summary of those events, together with highlights for 2005-06:

  • Swearing-in ceremonies and receptions, including those held for members of Cabinet and privy councillors. On February 6, 2006, close to 200 people attended the swearing-in ceremony for the members of the 28th Ministry. Subsequent Cabinet shuffles and smaller ceremonies where privy councillors are sworn in also took place at Rideau Hall.
  • Receptions for incoming and outgoing heads of mission. These receptions are a part of international diplomacy and enable heads of mission to present their letters of credence or commission to the governor general individually or enable her or him to meet with outgoing Canadian heads of mission personally. In 2005-06, 9 receptions were held for 32 incoming heads of mission. Similar receptions were held for outgoing Canadian heads of mission. The Governor General also hosted a levee for the diplomatic corps in December 2005.
  • State dinners for visiting heads of State. Hosting State dinners is a normal and expected part of international diplomacy. The dinners serve as an opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations, to promote Canada's foreign policy objectives and to showcase the best of Canada. In May 2005, the Governor General hosted a State luncheon for His Excellency Amadou Toumani Touré, President of the Republic of Mali, and Mrs. Lobbo Touré, an event that was attended by over 100 people. In September 2005, the Governor General hosted a State Dinner for His Excellency Hu Jintao, President of the People’s Republic of China, and Mrs. Liu Yongqing, attended by 113 people.
  • Courtesy calls. In addition to welcoming world leaders on State visits to Canada, the governor general also receives leaders, former leaders and other elected and non-elected foreign officials for courtesy calls. In 2005-06, the Governor General welcomed such visiting dignitaries as Dr. Condoleezza Rice, His Highness the Aga Khan, and Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan. As well, the Governor General hosted receptions for participants in the 2005 Conference of provincial heads of Protocol.
  • Receptions related to the governor general's role as commander-in-chief of Canada. In his or her role as commander-in-chief, the governor general hosts various events and receptions for Canadian Forces personnel, veterans and their families. In 2005-06, the Governor General hosted over 370 military personnel and their families at two Order of Military Merit investitures, as well as 24 members of the Canadian Forces and their families at the presentation of the Meritorious Service Decorations. The Governor General also hosted a lunch for over 200 guests upon their departure for Europe as part of the Spiritual Journey for Aboriginal Veterans. On Remembrance Day, Her Excellency hosted a reception in honour of the Silver Cross Mother attended by 60 veterans and members of the Royal Canadian Legion. In June 2005, the Governor General met with all members of the Armed Forces Council for their annual meeting; she then presented scrolls of commission to the new general/flag officers and offered a reception for them and their spouses. That same month, Her Excellency also presented the Canada Post commemorative envelope honouring war brides and in August 2005, she offered a reception for Hong Kong Veterans.
  • Honours investiture ceremonies and related receptions, including those for the Order of Canada, Decorations for Bravery, Meritorious Service Decorations, Order of Military Merit, and Order of Merit of the Police Forces. In 2005-06, the Governor General hosted 10 honours investiture ceremonies and related receptions attended by 417 award recipients and their 1,554 guests from all across Canada. The Governor General also presided 4 Caring Canadian Award presentations, which were attended by over 525 guests.

The governor general receives a considerable volume of spontaneous feedback from honours recipients, all expressing tremendous gratitude and pride, not only for being recognized for their remarkable achievements, but also for the dignified manner in which these ceremonies and receptions are carried out.

  • Ceremonies and receptions related to awards associated with the governor general — for example, the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, the Governor General's Literary Awards, the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case, the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts, the Michener Awards and the Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. In September 2005, the Governor General awarded the first Governor General’s Northern Medal. These awards enable the governor general, on behalf of Canada, to recognize and honour Canadian excellence and to increase awareness of the people of Canada's rich talent and traditions in these fields. In 2005-06, the Governor General hosted 7 awards ceremonies of this nature, attended by over 1,140 award recipients and their guests.

Public events held at the official residences

Rideau Hall in Ottawa and the governor general's official residence at the Citadelle in Quebec City are in many ways the nation's homes. Both residences have a long tradition as gathering places and, over the years, have become increasingly open and accessible to Canadians. In this spirit, a variety of public events are held annually at the official residences to welcome Canadians and to provide occasions to celebrate and reinforce Canadian values. As the governor general plays an active role in hosting these events, they also provide an opportunity for informal exchanges between the governor general and the Canadians who come to take part.

The following is a summary of the key public events held at the official residences, together with highlights of the events held in 2005-06:

  • Outdoor summer celebration. Outdoor summer celebrations have been held at Rideau Hall since the time of Lord Lisgar (1868-72). In 2005, Rideau Hall continued to make changes to the traditional garden party format by offering a military-themed Party in the Garden in honour of the Year of the Veteran. The event, which included military displays, a reception for war brides, the Dominion Institute’s Memory Project Road Show, and Canadian War Museum costumed interpreters, served as the launch of the Summer Concert Series featuring a big band concert presented in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada. This public event gave visitors an opportunity to meet Their Excellencies, tour the residence and the gardens, and enjoy an afternoon of light refreshments, old-fashioned games, music and activities for all ages. Approximately 6,000 people attended this event held on June 30, 2005.
  • Governor general's summer concert series. In addition to the concert held during the Party in the Garden, free outdoor concerts were offered on the grounds of Rideau Hall throughout the summer. This series of concerts was another way of welcoming Canadians to their national home. This year saw over 9,000 music lovers attending three different concerts highlighting and showcasing Canadian talent and excellence: world-renowned guitarist Andrew Mah and The Djokic Family Quartet offering music by Brahms, Handel-Halvorsen, Bach, Piazolla and others; classical quartet Quartetto Gelato performing songs inspired by the 1883 odyssey of the famous Orient Express train; and the Band of the Ceremonial Guard with their rousing military music.

Winter Celebration. In 2002, as part of the celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of Canadian governors general, Rideau Hall hosted the first Winter Celebration. This event is an opportunity to celebrate Canadian winter traditions at Canada's national house. Activities typically include skating, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, dogsledding, traditional Inuit games and children's outdoor games, all made possible through the participation of many citizens groups and volunteers such as Pathfinders and the Nunavut Sivuniksavut training program. In addition to enjoying outdoor winter activities, all guests are invited to tour Rideau Hall. The event is another way of increasing awareness of the Office and reinforces the OSGG's ongoing commitment to making the residence and grounds more accessible to Canadians. Approximately 3,000 people attended the Winter Celebration held in February 2006.

Visitors' program

The OSGG has had a long-established year-round visitors program at Rideau Hall and, since 2004, has also operated a tour program at the Citadelle, the governor general’s second official residence, in Quebec City.  

Programs at both residences are designed to promote awareness and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the governor general and the history of Canada’s democracy.

Because the residences belong to all Canadians, visitors, whether individuals, school groups, or others, are invited to discover Rideau Hall and the Citadelle through a variety of guided and self‑guided tours, special exhibitions, and other interpretive offerings that are provided at no charge throughout the year.

The overall interpretation program focuses on themes linked to Canadian identity, history, culture and values. The tours of Rideau Hall and the Citadelle are windows, both on Canadian history and the Office of the Governor General, and are by far the most popular element of the visitor program with all audiences. Since 1999 at Rideau Hall, groups and individuals have also been able to enjoy specialized art or horticultural tours. Families visiting the site during the summer can enjoy a diversified program of hands-on activities to complement the experience at the Visitor Centre. Picnics or interpretive walks on the grounds and along the paths are also very popular.

Visitors to Rideau Hall and the Citadelle numbered about 180,000 this year. Rideau Hall is consistently among the top 10 visitor attractions in the National Capital Region and is among the top five for visiting school tour groups. In fact, teachers consider Rideau Hall to be one of the must-see sites, especially as it relates to their class curriculum. An educational kit is available for teachers to help prepare their students for their visit.

The public response and the interest of the tourism industry in the visitor program at the Citadelle continue to grow—in fact, visitor attendance doubled this year compared to last year.

Feedback from visitors to Rideau Hall, including unsolicited correspondence, indicates that these visits are very informative and highly enjoyable. Visitor research studies also indicate that 93 percent of visitors leave with a good or an increased understanding of the role of the governor general.

Figure 3 - Visits to Rideau Hall by program category in 2005-2006

Guided Tours Interpretation Program Special Events Visitor Centre





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Honouring Canadians and Recognizing Excellence

The Chancellery of Honours

For close to 40 years, the Chancellery of Honours of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General has celebrated the achievements of Canadians, their acts of bravery and their distinguished service to fellow citizens and humanity in general, through the administration of the Canadian honours system. In 1988, this role was broadened to include the recognition of individual identity and the contribution of communities and institutions to the building of the nation through the establishment of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

Each year, thousands of Canadians, from community volunteers to astronauts and actors earn the recognition of the nation. The governor general presents honours and awards on behalf of all Canadians to recognize those people who have demonstrated excellence, courage or exceptional dedication to service in ways that bring special credit to Canada. The Canadian honours system recognizes these individuals and their accomplishments as a means of defining and encouraging national values, identity, unity and citizenship, and of inspiring others to build and strengthen the nation. 

The mandate

The Chancellery of Honours is mandated to support the governor general’s role in administering the Canadian honours system and the Canadian Heraldic Authority. To this end, the Chancellery of Honours:

  • administers the various honours programs (orders, decorations, medals and awards) and the heraldry program (armorial bearings/coats of arms, flags, badges and other heraldic devices) that serve to recognize and honour Canadians, their communities and institutions;
  • promotes the Canadian honours system and the celebration of our role models to ensure that all Canadians have a sound understanding of the system’s objectives, principles, programs and policies and are inspired by those individuals who have been honoured by the country;
  • supports the policy-making and decision-making processes that govern the Canadian honours system, protect its integrity and ensure its relevance to the needs of the government, the governor general and Canadians.  

The mission

To honour people, communities and institutions for their accomplishments and contributions to the nation and to safeguard the Canadian honours system through the application of:

  • Merit—bestowing honours based solely on the merits of the achievement and the individual;   
  • Non-partisanship—ensuring that the Canadian honours system remains free from political interference or affiliation; 
  • Accessibility—providing access to all Canadians regardless of social status or geographic location;   
  • Representation—representing Canadians from all walks of life and showcasing the diversity of the nation. 

Highlights of 2005-2006

During the last year, the Governor General personally presented the nation’s top honours to hundreds of recipients. These honours ranged from investitures into the Order of Canada to the bestowal of the Caring Canadian Award. In addition, more than 8,000 other individuals were recognized through such honours as the Exemplary Service Medal, which celebrates the contributions of Canada’s protective services to the nation, and the Governor General’s Academic Medal, awarded to exceptional students at the high school, college and university levels.

The Canadian Heraldic Authority continued to celebrate the identity of our people, our communities and our institutions through the granting of armorial bearings. Last year also saw substantial gains in the work of the Authority to develop its online registry and to foster public interest, with over 50,000 visits to its Web site in one month alone.

In addition, the Chancellery began a review of the Canadian honours system to verify that it is meeting its objectives and to better understand what changes, if any, are required to ensure that policies and programs remain relevant to Canadians. While this review will continue into the next year, the initial findings indicate a high level of acceptance of the nation’s efforts to recognize its exceptional citizens; however, more action will be required to strengthen and modernize some of the existing programs and policies. 

The challenges ahead

July 1, 2007 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Order of Canada and the beginnings of the Canadian honours system. The Chancellery will be undertaking a number of initiatives over the course of the next year to celebrate this milestone and to increase Canadian’s awareness of the honours system and the remarkable individuals who have been honoured over the last 40 years.

In addition, over the next year, the Chancellery will work in partnership with its major stakeholders to complete the review of the national honours system and to propose the changes needed to ensure that programs and policies continue to meet the needs of the government, the governor general and Canadians for generations to come.  

Order of Canada

The Order of Canada is the country's highest honour for lifetime achievement by its citizens. It was established in 1967 and since then, more than 5,000 Canadians have been appointed for their contributions toward making Canada a better country. There are three levels of membership to honour those whose accomplishments vary in degree and scope: Member, Officer and Companion. A complete listing of all persons appointed to the Order since 1967 can be accessed online at http://www.gg.ca/Search/honours_e.asp?Search=2.

The governor general, as chancellor of the Order of Canada, makes appointments to the Order based on the recommendations of a non-partisan advisory council, which reviews the nominations received. The advisory council, which is chaired by the chief justice of Canada, includes the clerk of the Privy Council, the deputy minister of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, the president of the Royal Society of Canada, the chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and five members of the Order, for regional representation. Order of Canada investiture ceremonies are generally held four times a year.

The chart in Figure 4 provides a summary of the Order of Canada appointments made in 2005-06:

Figure 4 - Order of Canada Awards

Year No. of Nominations Considered Total Awarded Percent Awarded Award Levels
Companion Officer Member








Decorations for Bravery

Decorations for bravery recognize people who have risked their lives to save or protect others. Three levels—the Cross of Valour, the Star of Courage and the Medal of Bravery—reflect the varying degrees of risk involved in any act of bravery.

The Decorations for Bravery were created in 1972. In the 34 years since then, more than 2,500 people have received Decorations for Bravery. The governor general personally presents the decorations in ceremonies held at Rideau Hall or at the Citadelle.

In those instances where the advisory committee does not feel that a Medal of Bravery is warranted but does feel that the act of bravery should be recognized, a Certificate of Commendation for Bravery is awarded. Figure 5 provides a summary of the Decorations for Bravery, including Certificates of Commendation, over the last fiscal year. Medal of Bravery investiture ceremonies are held twice a year.

Figure 5 - Decorations for Bravery

Year No. of Nominations Considered Total Awarded Percent Awarded Award Levels
Star of Courage Medals of Bravery Certificate of Commendation








Meritorious Service Decorations

While the Order of Canada recognizes Canadian citizens for lifetime contribution, the Meritorious Service Decorations celebrate both Canadians and non-Canadians and honour a single achievement or activity over a specific period. Meritorious Service Decorations are separated into military and civilian divisions, with two levels in each category: a cross and a medal. The Military Division recognizes individuals for outstanding professionalism and for bringing honour to the Canadian Forces. The Civilian Division recognizes contributions to any field, from athletics to diplomatic relations to humanitarian activities.

Separate advisory committees review military and civilian nominations and submit recommendations for potential candidates to the governor general for approval. The chart in Figure 6 provides a summary of the Meritorious Service Decorations awarded in this fiscal year.

Figure 6 –Meritorious Service Decorations

Year No. of Nominations Considered Total Awarded Percent Awarded Divisions
Military Civilian







Governor General's Caring Canadian Award

The Governor General's Caring Canadian Award recognizes selfless voluntarism.

In April 1996, Canada's then governor general, the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc, created the Caring Canadian Award to recognize these special volunteers—the unsung heroes of our country. This award honours Canadians for unpaid, voluntary contributions, most often made behind the scenes at the community level. The recipients have given extraordinary help or care to individuals, families or groups, or have supported community service or humanitarian causes. Recipients have usually been involved in these activities for several years and have not previously received a national or provincial honour.

The Governor General's Caring Canadian Award consists of a certificate and a lapel pin, which are presented to recipients by the governor general during his or her travels or by a designate, such as a lieutenant governor or a territorial commissioner.

An advisory committee reviews nominations and the accompanying research and then submits recommendations for potential candidates to the governor general for approval. Of the 100 nominations received for this award in 2005-06, 82 Caring Canadian Awards were granted.

Governor General's Academic Medal

For over 125 years, the Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. They are awarded to the student graduating with the highest average in his or her institution. Lord Dufferin, Canada's third governor general after Confederation, created the Academic Medal in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Over the years, it has become the most prestigious award for students in Canadian high schools, colleges and universities.

Today, the Governor General's Academic Medals are awarded at four distinct levels: Bronze at the secondary school level; Collegiate Bronze at the post-secondary diploma level; Silver at the undergraduate level; and Gold at the graduate level.

Medals, along with a personalized certificate signed by the governor general, are presented on behalf of the governor general by participating educational institutions. There is no monetary award associated with the medal. The chart in Figure 7 provides a summary of the distribution of the Governor General's Academic Medals across Canada in 2005-06.

Figure 7 - 2005-06 Distribution of the Governor General's Academic Medal

Province Gold Silver Collegiate Bronze Bronze Total







British Columbia












New Brunswick






Newfoundland and Labrador






Northwest Territories






Nova Scotia


















Prince Edward Island
























Total 2005-06






Other honours programs

In addition to the five honours programs outlined above, the governor general also honours Canadians each year through the following additional honours programs:

  • Order of Military Merit – This order, established in 1972, recognizes a career of exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of both Regular and Reserve Forces. In 2005-06, 103 members of Canada's military were honoured with this award;
  • Order of Merit of the Police Forces - This order, established in 2000, honours a career of exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of the Canadian police forces. In 2005-06, 45 members of Canada's police forces were honoured with this award.

The honours program also consists of other medals. The chart in Figure 8 outlines the other medal program awards in 2005-06.

Figure 8 - Other awards

Award No. of Individuals Bestowed this Award

Exemplary Service Medals: Police; Corrections; Fire Services; Canadian Coast Guard; Emergency Medical Services


Canadian Volunteer Medal for Korea


Mention in Dispatch


Foreign Awards to Canadians


Governor General's Marksmanship Medal


Commander-in-Chief Unit commendation
Viceregal Commendation


Awards associated with the office of the governor general

Over the years, a number of awards have been established in the governor general's name.

These include the Governor General's Literary Awards, the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts, the Governor General's Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History, and the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case.

These awards enable the governor general, on behalf of Canada, to recognize and honour Canadian excellence and to increase awareness of Canada's rich talent and traditions in these fields. In 2005-06, the Governor General hosted seven ceremonies of this nature, attended by over 1,140 award recipients and their guests.

Although these awards are presented by the governor general, most often in a ceremony at Rideau Hall, their administration and oversight are the responsibility of third parties, such as independent foundations established expressly for that purpose, private organizations, or other government organizations with a relevant mandate, such as the Canada Council for the Arts or Status of Women Canada.


The Canadian Heraldic Authority

Since June 4, 1988, the governor general has headed the Canadian Heraldic Authority and exercised all the prerogatives of the Queen to create heraldic symbols. The governor general's heraldic responsibilities are administered by Canadian officers of arms appointed by commission under the governor general's privy seal (see http://www.gg.ca/heraldry/cha/03/cha-officers_e.asp).

The chief herald of Canada is the only officer in the country with the authority to formalize new arms, flags and badges on behalf of the State.

Heraldry in the 21st century

Heraldic emblems (coats of arms, flags, and civil and military badges) give colour and shape to the identity of an individual or institution. They honour the past, present and future aspirations of Canadians. Full of symbolism, they celebrate the diversity of the Canadian experience and contribute to the sense of belonging in Canada.

Highlights of 2005–06

As per the mandate of the Authority, grants of new heraldic emblems were awarded to Canadian individuals and organizations of all types, including commercial and non-profit organizations such as family associations, learned societies, foundations, church groups, educational institutions, government services, as well as cities and amalgamated municipalities and their community services (police, fire and ambulance services), etc.

Fraser Herald, principal artist for the Authority and Rideau Hall, designed and created the drawings required to create the Governor General’s Northern Medal, the Governor General's Academic Medal, as well as the personal coats of arms and privy seal of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. He also oversaw the creation of new dies for the Governor General's Marksmanship Medal.

The heralds of the Canadian Heraldic Authority continued to make Canadians aware of heraldry and its vocabulary, as well as its long history as a means of celebrating and expressing identity. One of their most frequent duties is to answer questions from the public about coats of arms and Canadian emblems. They also write the descriptions of each emblem formalized by the Authority, including their significance, regularly give seminars, and publish texts in both public and specialized journals.

The Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada went online on June 28, 2005 (http://www.gg.ca/heraldry/pub-reg/index_e.asp). This virtual registry allows the public to discover the Authority’s recent creations. It contains detailed illustrations, descriptions, specialized indices, and various search functions that are easy to consult and use. This was the first step in the putting the entire Register online.

Anniversaries, special messages and correspondence

By long tradition, the OSGG prepares and sends congratulatory messages from the governor general to Canadians on the occasion of 50th wedding anniversaries and 90th birthdays, and from Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of 60th wedding anniversaries and 100th birthdays. In 2005-06, the OSGG sent to Canadians 22,080 anniversary messages on behalf of the Governor General and another 4,191 on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, an overall increase of three percent for the two programs combined (see figure 9).

Many Canadian individuals and organizations, including registered charities, municipalities, religious and social organizations, also request special messages from the governor general to recognize milestones, to greet members at conferences or for fundraising events. This past year, the OSGG prepared 852 such messages for the Governor General’s signature.

Furthermore, the governor general receives significant volumes of correspondence from Canadians on a vast range of issues. Many simply wish to offer their good wishes, encouragement or advice. Others wish to send a photograph or other memento to the governor general, or perhaps a heartfelt gift of a book, CD, or news clipping they feel he or she may enjoy seeing. Still others may exercise their democratic right to express their disagreement with the governor general over a view he or she has expressed, or course of action he or she has undertaken. Others write to the governor general seeking a personal intervention, often as a last resort, in various situations of distress such as immigration, financial or legal difficulties. These individuals are referred to federal and provincial departments best positioned to assist them, as the governor general cannot intervene in matters that are the responsibility of elected officials.

The transition to a new mandate typically occasions a considerable spike in the volume of correspondence. This year was no exception as volumes increased significantly and remained at an unprecedented level for the balance of 2005-06. The Editorial Services office of the OSGG researched and replied to 1,713 letters on behalf of the Governor General, an increase of 56 percent from the previous year. The increased volume in incoming correspondence resulted in a backlog that continued to be addressed into the subsequent fiscal year.

The number of Canadians who communicate electronically with the office also continues to increase significantly. The OSGG processed 11,052 electronic information enquiries and comments in 2005-06, representing a 30 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

Overall, in all categories of correspondence combined, 39,888 correspondents received a response to their enquiries, an increase of 7.9 percent from 2004-05.

The Editorial Services office of the OSGG also provides translation, text revision and editing functions and is responsible for the linguistic quality of public documents published by the OSGG, such as ceremonial programs, press releases, information leaflets, Web texts and numerous other documents.

Figure 9 – Anniversaries, special messages and correspondence

Birthday and Wedding Anniversary Messages Targeted Messages General Correspondence E-mails (INFO) Total

26, 271





Updated: 2018-03-26
Important Notices
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