After considering other alternatives, including Mr. Michener’s personal coat of arms, the Michener Awards board decided to pursue the creation of a heraldic badge which would be unique to the organization. Executive members met with Robert Watt, the Chief Herald of Canada, whose advice was invaluable. Jointly they decided on a badge which would borrow the strong blue and gold colours from the Michener coat of arms and display on it the motto ‘Truth in the Service of Freedom’ and quills representing print journalism and a lightning bolt for broadcast and other forms of electronic journalism.
The Chief Herald, assisted by Cathy Bursey-Sabourin, the Fraser Herald, produced the following technical description in blazon, the very stylized language of heraldry: On a hurt edged Or within a wreath of laurel held at the base by a maple leaf, two quills in saltire surmounted by a lightning bolt in pale Or, the hurt inscribed around the circumference TRUTH IN THE SERVICE OF FREEDOM (VERITAS ANCILLA LIBERTATIS) in letters also Or.
Mr. Watt also supplied the following explanation and symbolism:“The badge is a blue circle edged in gold. In the centre are two quill pens forming a diagonal cross with a lightning bolt placed over them vertically, framed within a leaf of laurel held at the base by a maple leaf. All these elements are gold. Encircling the wreath is the motto, also in gold.
“Blue and gold honour the late Rt. Hon. Roland Michener, founder of the award, whose daughter Wendy was a well-known journalist. The laurel wreath symbolizes excellence of achievement while the lightning bolt and quills represent communication through writing and electronic means. The maple leaf underlines the fact that this is a Canadian award and the recipients are and serve Canadians. The motto was chosen by some of the Directors to represent the essential nature of the work of journalists.”
The design was executed in its final form by heraldic artist Eva Pilar-Cass of Searchmont, ON.
A warrant was issued by the Deputy Herald Chancellor authorizing the Chief Herald to grant armorial bearings to the Michener Awards Foundation as an honour from the Crown. Letters patent designating the Foundation as the sole authority for using the armorial badge were signed by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, a strong supporter of the work of the Foundation.
Subsequently the board, for purposes of clear identification of two different pins displaying the badge, commissioned artist Brandon Denard of Algonquin College to add two different circles to the badge. The first will be used on pins for members of the board and other supporters of the foundation, and will read ‘La Fondation des Prix Michener Awards Foundation’. The second for pins to be presented to journalists directly involved in producing award-winning entries–the award itself goes to the media organization–will read ‘Prix Michener Award’.