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National Honours

Sacrifice Medal (SM)


The Sacrifice Medal was created in the context of increased casualties in overseas operations to fulfill the desire of Canadians and the Government to provide formal recognition, through the award of an official medal emanating from the Crown, to those who die as a result of military service or are wounded by hostile action. This honour replaces the Wound Stripe.

Eligibility and criteria

The Medal may be awarded to members of the Canadian Forces, members of an allied force working as an integral part of the Canadian Forces such as exchange personnel, civilian employees of the Government of Canada or Canadian citizens under contract with the Government of Canada, on the condition that they were deployed as part of a military mission under the authority of the Canadian Forces, that have, on or after October 7, 2001, died or been wounded under honourable circumstances as a direct result of hostile action on the condition that the wounds that were sustained required treatment by a physician and the treatment has been documented.

The Medal may also be awarded posthumously to any member of the Canadian Forces who served on or after 7 October 2001 in the Regular Force, Primary Reserve, Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service or Canadian Rangers, or any member of the Supplementary Reserve who served in or with one of the components aforementioned on or after 7 October 2001, and died under honourable circumstances as a result of an injury or disease related to military service.

When a death is obviously related to service, the SM will be issued immediately. When the cause of death is not clear, the SM will only be issued once Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has officially determined that the death was related to military service, in such a case, delays are to be expected before the SM can be awarded.

For more details, see lists of Eligible cases or Ineligible cases.


The Sacrifice Medal is a circular silver medal, bearing:

on the obverse a contemporary effigy of Her Majesty The Queen wearing a Canadian diadem composed of alternating maple leaves and snowflakes circumscribed with the inscriptions "ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA" and "CANADA", separated by small maple leaves and

on the reverse a representation of the statue named "Canada" — which forms part of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial — facing right, overlooking the horizon with the inscription "SACRIFICE" appearing in the lower right half of the Medal.

The effigy of Her Majesty represents not only The Queen as Canada’s Head of State (highlighted by the word CANADA and the maple leaves) and Head of the armed forces but also as the FONS HONORIS (the Fount of All Honours). The Queen is the only person who can create an official honour in Canada and all Canadian Honours are bestowed in Her name. The tradition generally followed since the mid-19th century has been to depict who the medal is from on the obverse, what the medal is for on the reverse and who the medal is for on the edge. The Statue "Canada", designed by architect Walter Seymour Allward as part of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, symbolizes Canada, the mother of a nation grieving for her fallen. This saddened figure personifies the sorrow for the lives lost and broken by conflict and makes a connection with Vimy, acclaimed by many as the birthplace of the nation and one of the most important military engagements in Canadian history. She faces a large field representing the loneliness and isolation of mourning but also the future. The statue depicts the figure of a woman, hooded and cloaked, head heavy, with her eyes cast down and her chin resting on her hand. She holds some laurel branches in her right hand, symbol of peace, honour and sacrifice.

The medal is fitted with a straight suspension bar ornamented with the Royal Crown.

The ribbon is a watered ribbon, 32 mm wide, with a black central stripe (10 mm), flanked by red edges (11 mm each) centered on which are 1 mm white stripes. Black represents the mourning of the dead and the shock of the wounds, the red represent the blood that has been spilled and the white, the hope for a better future. Red and white are also the official colours of Canada as decreed by King George V in 1921.

The bar has a raised edge and bears a central maple leaf overall.



A bar is awarded for further occasions which would have warranted award of the Medal.


The Sacrifice Medal shall be worn in the sequence prescribed in the Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals Directive, and in the following manner:

On the left breast, suspended from the ribbon described above, between the Royal Victorian Medal and the Gulf and Kuwait Medal;

One bar is worn centred on the ribbon; if multiple bars have been awarded, they shall be evenly spaced on the ribbon; and

Where the undress ribbon is worn, a silver maple leaf shall be worn centred on the ribbon of the Medal to indicate the award of a Bar, a gold maple leaf shall be worn to indicate the award of a second Bar, a red maple leaf shall be worn to indicate the award of a third Bar and a combination of these devices may be worn to indicate the award of more than three bars (e.g. a red maple leaf and a gold maple leaf representing 5 bars, etc).


The use of a post-nominal is not authorized for this medal.

Historical notes

Captain Carl Gauthier of the Directorate of Honours & Recognition and Cathy Bursey-Sabourin, Fraser Herald at the Canadian Heraldic Authority at the Chancellery of Honours, Rideau Hall, collaborated to create the design.

The Medal is made of Sterling Silver and lacquered to prevent tarnishing. It is manufactured by the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Medal is engraved on the edge with the service number, abbreviated substantive rank, initials and surname of military recipients and the forenames and name of civilian recipients.

The Medal was first announced on 29 August 2008 but some issues quickly became apparent, especially with regards to the ineligibility of accidental deaths. The Minister of National Defence asked the Chief of the Defence staff to conduct a review of the existing criteria and make recommendations to the appropriate government committee. The inaugural presentation ceremony, initially planned for 12 November 2008, was postponed until the conclusion of the review. The review resulted in a broadening of the posthumous criteria of the Medal to cover all service-related deaths rather that only those which were the direct result of hostile action. This change brought the posthumous aspect of the Medal in line with the newly amended criteria for the Memorial Cross, Memorial Scroll, Memorial Bar and for inclusion in the 7th Book of Remembrance. The other aspects of the Medal, including the criteria for wounded (which remained linked to hostile action and therefore to the old Wound Stripe which it replaced), the start date and the design of the Medal remained unchanged.

The inaugural presentation ceremony took place on 9 November 2009 in the ballroom of Rideau Hall in Ottawa. On this occasion, Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, CC, CMM, COM, CD, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, presented the Medal to 46 representative recipients, 21 of these were posthumous presentations including the only civilian recipient so far, Dr. Glyn Raymond Berry. The very first recipient of the Medal and only recipient of the Medal with bar on that day, was Master Corporal Lance Thomas Hooper, MSM, CD.

As of 1 June 2012, 705 medals have been issued, including 19 with the bar.

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