Inaugural Presentation Ceremony of the Polar Medal

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July 6, 2015
*Updated July 6, 2015 at 4:20 p.m. EDT 

Inaugural Presentation Ceremony of the Polar Medal in Whitehorse

OTTAWA—His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will preside over the inaugural presentation ceremony of the newly created Polar Medal on Wednesday, July 8, at 10:30 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time – UTC/GMT -7 hours), at the MacBride Museum of Yukon History (1124 Front Street) in Whitehorse, Yukon.

“The recipients who will be honoured with the Polar Medal have helped us to better connect with Canada’s North and have inspired us through their diverse contributions and efforts,” said the Governor General. “They have made this integral part of our country stronger and have reinforced the resilience of its communities. It will give me great pleasure to celebrate their achievements in Whitehorse, a city rife with potential.”

The new medal will be presented to 10 recipients who have rendered extraordinary services in the polar regions and in Canada’s North. Part of the Canadian Honours System, the Polar Medal elevates the way we recognize individuals who contribute to northern communities and to our understanding of northern Canada and its people. It also highlights their achievements in polar exploration and scientific discoveries.  

The names of the recipients, their citations and a fact sheet on the Polar Medal are attached. For more information, visit


Media wishing to cover the event are asked to confirm their attendance in advance with the Rideau Hall Press Office. Media must arrive at the MacBride Museum of Yukon History no later than 10 a.m. on the day of the ceremony.

For a high-resolution image of the Polar Medal, please click here.

Media information:

In Ottawa:
Marie-Pierre Bélanger
Rideau Hall Press Office

In Whitehorse:

Annabelle Cloutier
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-301-2764 (cell)

Follow GGDavidJohnston and RideauHall on Facebook and Twitter


Michel Allard
Québec, Quebec 

A researcher with the Centre for Northern Studies and a professor of geography at Université Laval since 1975, Michel Allard has contributed significantly to research projects exploring the impact of melting permafrost on the natural environment and infrastructures in Nunavik and Nunavut. His research has also examined the vulnerability of Nunavut’s Inuit communities to global warming, as well as the development of adaptive strategies.   

Marianne Douglas
Whitehorse, Yukon 

Marianne Douglas is recognized as one of Canada’s most experienced Arctic field scientists. She has helped promote a better understanding of northern Canada through a variety of public outreach work, sharing her expertise on scientific, economic, social and cultural issues impacting the North. In addition, she has conducted extensive research in the southern polar regions.

John Geiger
Ryan Harris
Ottawa, Ontario
Louie Kamookak
Gjao Haven, Nunavut
Doug Stenton
Iqaluit, Nunavut 

John Geiger is the Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society; Ryan Harris is a senior underwater archeologist with Parks Canada; Louie Kamookak is an Inuit historian; and Doug Stenton is the Government of Nunavut’s director of Heritage. All four played essential roles in the success of the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition. Their passion, dedication and perseverance contributed directly to the discovery of the wreck of Sir John Franklin’s HMS Erebus in September 2014—and to the resolution of one of polar exploration’s greatest enigmas. Their collective efforts have strengthened our understanding of Canada’s North and cultivated a keen, nationwide interest in discoveries yet to come.

Shelagh Grant
Peterborough, Ontario 

A historian, researcher, author, editor and adjunct professor, Shelagh Grant has taught history and Canadian studies at Trent University for 17 years. Her academic research drew her to Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Baffin Island and other remote Arctic locations. As the first historian and first woman to receive the Northern Science Award, she was active on various Inuit policy advisory committees, editorial boards and northern scholarship committees.

Gerald W. Kisoun
Inuvik, Northwest Territories 

A well-respected Elder, Mr. Kisoun has worked tirelessly at strengthening the awareness and understanding of northern Canada and its peoples. As the community liaison officer in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, this dedicated community leader and active volunteer sits on a number of boards, including the Inuvialuit Harvesters Assistance Program, and acts as a liaison with local schools for science and heritage fairs. 

Anne Morgan
Whitehorse, Yukon

Anne Morgan is a pillar in community recreation throughout the North. As executive director of the Recreation Parks Association of Yukon, she has significantly contributed to developing sustainable programs and services in rural and remote communities. A fervent supporter and advocate of active living, she is committed to promoting healthier lifestyles, particularly among children and youth. 

Second Lieutenant Dorothy Tootoo
Rankin Inlet, Nunavut 

Second Lieutenant Dorothy Tootoo is the officer responsible for sustaining the cadet program in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Demonstrating unwavering commitment to the program, she has enlisted the support of Elders within the community to establish a mentoring program. In addition, as the residence manager at Arctic College, she seeks out every opportunity to help students persist in their studies and achieve their goals.



The Polar Medal celebrates Canada’s northern heritage and recognizes persons who render extraordinary services in the polar regions and in Canada’s North.

As an official honour created by the Crown, the Polar Medal is part of the Canadian Honours System. The program incorporated and replaced the Governor General’s Northern Medal, created in 2005, by then-Governor General the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson.

The Chancellery of Honours, part of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, administers the Polar Medal program.

Eligibility criteria and nomination process

The Polar Medal recognizes those who have contributed to or endeavoured to promote a greater understanding of Canada’s northern communities and its people.

It also honours those individuals who have withstood the rigours of the polar climate to make significant contributions to polar exploration and knowledge, scientific research, and the securement of Canada’s northern sovereignty.

Any person or group can submit a nomination of a person who is eligible to be awarded the Polar Medal. Nominations are received by the Chancellery of Honours throughout the year and are reviewed by an advisory committee, which makes recommendations to the governor general. Completed nominations may be submitted either by email at or by mail at Chancellery of Honours, Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A1.

Description of the medal

The Polar Medal consists of a silver octagonal medal that is 36 mm in diameter with a suspension bar adorned with a representation of the North Star, with limbs evoking strong winds, water currents and the aurora borealis.

The obverse depicts a contemporary effigy of the Sovereign, circumscribed with the inscription in capital letters of the Canadian Royal Title and the word “CANADA”, separated by two maple leaves. The edge of the obverse is decorated with small denticles. The reverse bears a representation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police schooner St. Roch depicted in the Arctic near a tall iceberg and two crew members standing on the ice. The medal is suspended from a watered white ribbon that is 32 mm in width.

Each subsequent award of the Medal to the same person will be indicated by a bar, which will be in silver with raised edges and bear a centred silver maple leaf.

The design of the Polar Medal was created by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, as part of the Chancellery of Honours, based on a concept by Major Carl Gauthier of the Directorate of Honours and Recognition section of the Department of National Defence. The medal is manufactured by the Royal Canadian Mint at its Ottawa facility.