The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers

The Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers recognizes the exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields.

As an official Canadian honour, the Medal for Volunteers incorporates and replaces the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. The Medal builds on the legacy and spirit of the Caring Canadian Award by honouring the dedication and commitment of volunteers.

Tell us about a friend, co-worker or member of your community who inspires you and deserves to be recognized. Submit a nomination in a few simple steps!

Eligibility Criteria and Nomination Process

Sovereign's Medal  for Volunteers

Any person who is a Canadian citizen and who has made significant, sustained and unpaid contributions to their community in Canada or abroad is eligible. Candidates must have demonstrated an exemplary commitment through their dedicated volunteerism. The Medal is awarded to individuals only, not to groups or couples. Non-Canadians are also eligible if their contributions have brought benefit or honour to Canadians or to Canada.

The Chancellery of Honours, part of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, administers the program and receives all nominations. Each one is carefully researched and then reviewed by an advisory committee, which makes recommendations to the governor general. The selection process is non-partisan and merit-based. Presentation ceremonies are held throughout the year, in communities across Canada.

There is no deadline for submissions. Nominations are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year.

Description of the Medal

The Medal for Volunteers consists of a silver circular medal that is 36 mm in diameter with a suspension ring. The obverse depicts a contemporary effigy of the Sovereign, circumscribed with the inscription in capital letters of the Canadian Royal Title and the word “CANADA”, separated by two maple leaves.

The reverse indicates the ideas of caring and generosity, represented by two interlaced hearts. The sunburst pattern of the rim symbolizes the time that volunteers are giving and their actions. The ribbon uses the viceregal colours of blue and gold. The five gold stripes evoke the fingers of a hand, present in the Caring Canadian Award emblem, while the deep red colour is associated with royalty.

The design of medal was created by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, based on a concept by Darcy DeMarsico of the Chancellery of Honours. The medal is manufactured by the Royal Canadian Mint at its Ottawa facility.

For any questions about the program, please direct them to or call 613-993-3529 or 1-800-465-6890 (toll-free).

Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award (1995-2016)

The Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award was created in 1995 by the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc to recognize the unsung heroes who volunteer their time, their efforts and a great deal of their lives to helping others, and who ask for nothing in return. The program was replaced by the Medal for Volunteers in 2016.

Description of the award

Caring Canadian Award Pin

The Caring Canadian Award consists of a letter, certificate and a lapel pin presented to recipients by the governor general or by lieutenant-governors, territorial commissioners, mayors, members of the Order of Canada or partner organizations.

The award’s emblem represents Canadians who selflessly give of their time and energy to others. The maple leaf symbolizes the people of Canada and their spirit; the heart depicts the open-heartedness of volunteers; and the outstretched hand portrays boundless generosity. The helping hand and heart support the maple leaf. The blue and gold colours, which appear on the viceregal flag, indicate the award’s connection with the governor general.

Date modified: September 27, 2017