Anyone passing through Capilano University’s Library Square on Thursday, May 12 may have noticed that the Canadian flag had a very regal looking replacement. The Governor General’s standard was flying high, announcing the impending visit of His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.
His Excellency’s motorcade pulled up in front of the Birch building at 3:40 p.m. precisely and right on cue, 25 children from the Capilano Children’s centre waved their Canadian flags to greet “this very special person” whom they had been expecting. The Governor General, who was met by Capilano’s president, Dr. Kris Bulcroft, very graciously introduced himself to the youngsters and expressed his delight when one of them proudly showed off her new shoes. He helped another to her feet when she accidentally tipped over.
While this was all just a prelude to the main event – the unveiling of our new coat of arms – it certainly provided an insight into the kind heart of the man who currently represents Canada’s sovereign. In fact, everyone associated with the Governor General’s office, from the RCMP officers, to his assistants, media relations personnel and secretary, Mr. Stephen Wallace, were congenial, considerate, and generous from their first moment of contact with Cap to their last.
The unveiling ceremony of our coat of arms was short but very sweet, made all the more so due to the presence of Robert Watt, Rideau Herald Emeritus. Robert is a longtime North Vancouver resident and citizenship judge, who just prior to Cap’s event was in Kelowna, swearing in more than 150 people as new Canadians. He had also served as the first Chief Herald of Canada from 1988 to 2007, and was a history instructor at Capilano College in the 1960s.
This formal gesture at Capilano was the final dot on the bottom of an exclamation mark that has been our journey towards our new university designation. Dr. Bulcroft gave a detailed description of the coat of arms, including the graphics and motto that translates into Through learning to a greater good.
“Significant internal consultation took place with all input received from many campus constituencies,” she said, before introducing Robert Watt who read the proclamation text. The crowd of about 80 guests, including students, alumni, employees, board members and elected officials, then heard from the Governor General.
“Speaking as someone who has spent over four decades working in the academic world, it is fitting that my first presentation ceremony of corporate arms is to a university,” His Excellency said. “As you can see, the simple yet original design combines traditional symbols of learning with references to Capilano’s spectacular natural setting between the mountains and the ocean. Its winged bear supporters demonstrate that one of the strengths of heraldry is its ability to transform the familiar into something of imagination. At the centre of the arms is a salmon rendered in a West Coast First Nations style, a reminder of the special connection the university has enjoyed with local First Nations communities since its creation in 1968.”
Cap’s coat of arms is one of about 50 new heraldic designs for Canadian universities created since 1988, when the Canadian Heraldic Authority was established.
“My visit this afternoon and the beautiful new emblems that we are unveiling pay tribute to the amazing growth of this institution over 40 years, its commitment to teaching in both established and new fields of study, and the important role it plays in the North Shore community and in post-secondary education in British Columbia,” His Excellency said. “I invite you to take a look at the splendid letters patent document on which the coat of arms and badge appears, and I hope the university will make good use of these emblems in the years to come.”
View more photos from the event under the Flickr photostream .
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