Since the day of early human civilization, people have honoured those whose talents, values, or actions benefit the community. In Greek and Roman times, laurel leaves were conferred on outstanding citizens and, in the Middle Ages, special decorations marked the shields of heroes.
In Canada today, granting honours is a gracious, tangible, and lasting way to pay tribute to people whose achievements are exceptional, who have performed outstanding acts of bravery, or who have benefitted Canada or humanity in general.
To ensure that Canadians, whenever and wherever they are deserving, are recognized appropriately, Canada has developed an honours system comprising orders, decorations, medals, armorial bearings and other heraldic devices, granted under prerogative power exercised by the Governor General. Awards have been established that recognize not only the contribution made to Canada's well-being by its own citizens, but foreign nationals as well.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the fount of all honours. As the Sovereign, only she may create an order, decoration or medal; she does so on the recommendation of the Canadian Government by Letters Patent under her signature and seal. Once an honour is created, the Governor General exercises all powers of the Sovereign in respect of it.
For a comprehensive listing and description of all Canadian National Honours, please refer to the Governor General's website .