Canada creates new Polar Medal

Canada's Polar Medal design. (Governor General of Canada)
Canada’s Polar Medal design. (Governor General of Canada)
The Canadian government announced the creation of a new medal on Tuesday to honour people who’ve made a difference in Canada’s North.

Called the Polar Medal, the award will also recognize contributions to Arctic science and exploration.

“The creation of the Polar Medal emphasizes the importance that our country places on strengthening our understanding of and connection to the North,” said Canada’s Governor General, David Johnston in a news release.

“Recognizing the outstanding contributions made by those working and living there, which is not without challenges and risks, will make our Canadian Honours System more comprehensive and better able to celebrate the full breadth of Canadian achievement.”

Design unveiled

The medal was designed by Major Carl Gauthier, of the Directorate of Honours and Recognition section of the Department of National Defence.

Queen Elizabeth II is depicted on one side. On the other side, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police schooner St. Roch, a boat that patrolled Canada’s Arctic in the early 20th century, is pictured in the North next to an iceberg.

The final artwork on the medal was done by the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

“I am delighted that we as a country, through the Canadian Honours System, will now publicly recognize outstanding contributions to the North, a vital part not only of our geography but of our collective identity and pride as Canadians,” said Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement after the design was released.

Nominations for the medal’s first recipients will take place this fall.

The first Polar Medals are expected to be awarded by the end of the year.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian web documentary highlights Arctic science, Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  Northern lights could be visible from southern Finland this weekend, Yle News

Norway:  Norway’s polar satellite centre, Deutsche Welle’s Iceblogger

Sweden:  Shrimp blast into space from Arctic Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: Auroral research rocket blasts into space from Alaska range, Alaska Dispatch News

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *