OTTAWA, ON, May 13, 2008 – The National Council of Veteran Associations has been advised that the Government will unveil the Canadian Victoria Cross on Friday, May 16, 2008.
We are receiving a number of media enquiries, accordingly, NCVA has prepared the following notes which provide some background history:
On February 2, 1993, Queen Elizabeth II approved the creation of a Canadian VC. The award has the same criteria as the original British decoration. Exception: Canadian award will have Latin inscription, Pro valore, replacing the equivalent inscription For Valour on the British Commonwealth VC.
In March 1992, in Legion Magazine, Cliff Chadderton was quoted as follows:
"Another letter from National Council of Veteran Associations Chairman Cliff Chadderton stated: 'It would appear that the majority, if not all, of the established veterans' organizations in Canada endorse the principle that the award of a medal for valour to a Canadian citizen should be the responsibility of the Canadian Government.'"
In an interview with radio station CKCU-FM (Carleton University), Chadderton stated: "The NCVA has been after the Canadian Government for years, really, to have our own Victoria Cross. … The VC is known as a British medal instigated by Queen Victoria in 1836."
On one occasion, he (Smokey) was asked by Anne McMillan of the CBC whether he felt that a Canadian decoration should be adopted. Smokey said (and I wrote it down in my notebook): "The only true value of the Victoria Cross above a new Canadian decoration to replace it is that the Queen is above politics."
Smokey would simply say, "My Victoria Cross was awarded by the British Monarch on the basis of serious and long-developed guidelines." It can be awarded to a private soldier – a statement that Smokey often repeated. He really meant the decoration means so much throughout the world because it has escaped political interference.
Tradition is one thing – it stands above all else, including political expediency which would, by its very nature, be the fate of any Canadian medal.
If the private members' bill put forward by MP Douglas Fee in October 1991 is approved, the Canadian VC would rank first, followed by the three Canadian bravery medals (i.e. Cross of Valour; Star of Courage; Medal of Bravery).
The design would apparently be the same as the British Victoria Cross. It would be presented by the Governor General of Canada, with the names being published in the Canada Gazette.
The award of a medal for valour to a Canadian would be the sole responsibility of the Canadian Government, although it is understood that the British Commonwealth Victoria Cross would remain as the highest recognition for courage in the Commonwealth, and thus could be awarded to a Canadian service person for action in any of the Commonwealth forces.
A quote from THE STORY OF THE VICTORIA CROSS by Sir John Smyth says:
"The Victoria Cross has remained Britain's highest and most-prized decoration for gallantry, and perhaps it is true to say that, in an age when most things have been devalued, the Victoria Cross became, and has remained, the most famous award for gallantry in the world."
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