A coat of arms for Canadian Foreign Service

Canada’s Governor General Mary Simon recently signed a warrant authorizing the Canadian Heraldic Authority to design a coat of arms to honour Canada's Foreign Service - a” first” - in keeping with the long tradition of other government departments. This coat of arms will serve as a unique identifier and be made available as a template for etching on headstones wherever members choose as their final resting place.

This project was initiated by former AmbCanada board members Gabriel Lessard and Gary Smith with AmbCanada providing seed money to kick-start the project. Volunteers AmbCanada member Robert Peck and Liz Hetherington, spouse of AmbCanada member Scott Heatherington, are now leading efforts to complete the project and raise the required funds. Building on an existing MOU between AmbCanada and Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery offering preferential terms for funeral arrangements, all donations will be eligible for tax receipts via the Beechwood Cemetery Foundation.

With the support of former AmbCanada President Abbie Dann the original scope of the project was broadened to include members of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO). A shared coat of arms for members of both AmbCanada and PAFSO celebrates the commitment of both organizations to the legacy, vocation, traditions, and contributions of Canada’s diplomatic service both past and present.

Why a coat of arms?

Because it is 2022! A distinct coat of arms for Canada's Foreign Service is in keeping with the proud traditions of the RCMP, CSIS and National Defence, all of which have designated burial sites at Beechwood Cemetery. Canada’s Foreign Service has played a vital role in the promotion and protection of our national interest, furthered international peace and security, advanced international economic development, managed the flow of visitors, immigrants, and refugees to our country, provided consular assistance to Canadians, and projected our culture and values throughout the world. Each element on the new coat of arms will evoke key aspects of the vocation, service to Canadians and personal sacrifice.

How will it be designed?

Coats of arms tell a personal story about the people they represent. Like logos, they serve as a visual signature. A small committee made up of representatives from AmbCanada and PAFSO will work closely with Fabienne Fusade, Miramichi Herald at the Canadian Heraldic Authority. The conceptual design and artwork are expected to take a year. To denote former Heads of Mission and OIC appointees, a slight variation of the coat of arms will have a distinguishing feature.

How can you participate in this process? We want to hear from you! What messages, symbols, and design elements are important to you? Your comments would be welcome at: coatofarmsconsultation@gmail.com

How will the coat of arms be used?

The primary purpose is as a visible symbol etched on the headstones of members highlighting their service to Canada as members of the Foreign Service. An electronic template will be made available to eligible AmbCanada and PAFSO members whether in Canada or abroad. Alternate uses are also under consideration for such things as business cards.

A symbolic presence in Beechwood Cemetery and cemeteries at home and abroad Beechwood Cemetery is a National Historic Site. Veterans from both world wars, Korea, Bosnia, and Afghanistan are buried there, as well as members of CSIS, the RCMP and National Defence. We believe that over time the use of the new coat of arms at Beechwood and cemeteries elsewhere will heighten awareness of the contributions of individual members of the Foreign Service.

With the support of Beechwood Cemetery, a ceremonial tree dedicated to the Foreign Service will be planted in a visible and easily accessible location. A memorial plaque will feature the new coat of arms and draw attention to visitors that members of the Foreign Service are buried throughout the cemetery. Efforts are under way to identify members of the Foreign Service already interred there. We hope that an official inauguration will be possible sometime in 2023.

What will it cost?

The cost of the conception, design, and final drawings of the coat of arms will be in the order of $6000. For the ceremonial tree and plaque, we are budgeting an additional $4000. We need your support! Our fundraising target is $10,000. Robert, Liz and their respective spouses Maria Pantazi Peck and Scott Heatherington have already made donations to get the ball rolling.

We hope that you will join our coalition of the willing! Tax-deductible donations can be made on-line using the following link: https://beechwoodottawa.ca/en/donation.

When donating, please make sure to select the AmbCanada/PAFSO project in the drop-down menu.

There are four levels of sponsorship outlined below but donations of any amount are gratefully received:

  • Founders - $500
  • Honour Circle - $250
  • Patrons - $100
  • Supporters - $50

The AmbCanada Beechwood Cemetery Partnership

For those interested in learning more about the partnership between AmbCanada and Beechwood Cemetery Company, please download the FREE eBook at https://landing.beechwoodottawa.ca/en- ca/diplomats.