Canadian Forces Unit Commendation

The official description, eligibility, criteria, and history of the Canadian Forces' Unit Commendation.

Canadian Forces Unit Commendation


The Canadian Forces’ Unit Commendation is a group award created to recognize distinguished service by a military unit.

Eligibility and criteria

Awarded to any unit or sub-unit, composite formation or other military group of the CF, or to any similar organization of a foreign armed force working with or in conjunction with the CF, that has performed a deed or activity considered beyond the demand of normal duty. It may be awarded to winners of competitions only under very exceptional circumstances.

Note that an extraordinary deed or activity of a rare high standard in extreme hazardous circumstances in a war or war-like situation in an active theatre of operations would not be recognized by this award but may be eligible for the Commander-in-Chief Commendation.


The Commendation includes three elements:

  • a gold-embossed scroll inscribed in both official languages with the name of the formation, unit, or sub-unit concerned and an appropriate citation and bearing the signature of the Chief of the Defence Staff;
  • a twelve-sided gold coloured medallion, 76 mm across the points, bearing on the obverse the superimposed symbols of the three services: the anchor, the crossed swords, and the flying eagle, topped by the Royal Crown; the whole superimposed on four maple leaves within a raised circle. On the edge of the medallion appear, between branches of laurel leaves, the inscriptions “COMMENDATION” and “MENTION ÉLOGIEUSE”. The reverse displays a wreath of laurel and maple leaves around the perimeter, leaving the center plain to allow the engraving of the unit’s name; and
  • a special commemorative flag showing the superimposed symbols of the three services: the anchor, the crossed swords, and the flying eagle, topped by the Royal Crown and surrounded by a wreath of laurel leaves on a field (background) consisting of three horizontal and equal stripes of navy blue, red, and light blue. The flag may be flown or openly displayed by recipient units as a public distinction for a period of one year from the date of the presentation of the award. Thereafter, the flag may be kept as an historical artefact and memento of the award.


Not Applicable


This award is not intended to be worn.


Not Applicable

Historical notes

On 17 November 1980, General Ramsey Muir Withers, CMM, CD, then Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), approved the concept of the Canadian Forces Unit Commendation  (CF Unit Commendation) during a meeting with commanders and requested suggestions on the symbol to form part of the award. After much discussion with all commands on the subject, General Withers approved the design of the original pennant in March 1983. Once the pennants were made available, the regulations for the award (CFAO 18-20) were released on 3 May 1985.

The symbol for the CF Unit Commendation was initially a pennant of proportions two by one, measuring 90 cm X 45 cm, with the symbol of the CDS Commendation — a gold bar with three conjoined gold maple leaves taken from the base of the shield of the Royal Arms of Canada — on a CF green background. The symbol was to be displayed in unit accommodations, flown by static and field units, or painted on the bridges of HMC ships. This was accompanied by a framed scroll inscribed with the name of the unit or sub-unit being cited, an appropriate unilingual narrative, and signed by the CDS.

At a meeting of the CF Honours Committee in December 1989, it was decided to change the insignia of the CF Unit Commendation to a medallion in a shadow-box. The shadow-box was also to contain the citation scroll and pennant bearing the same insignia. On 18 December 1990, the new insignia became available but varied slightly to what had been discussed the previous year, abandoning the idea of the shadow box. The award now included an engraved gold-coloured medallion (described above) for permanent display, a now bilingual citation scroll bearing a representation of the obverse of the new medallion embossed in gold with a double gold border, and a new flag (described above) to be flown for one year after the award’s presentation as a public mark of honour. Thereafter, the flag may be kept as an historical artefact and memento of the award. The original flag was permanently flown under rules which gave the award a higher profile and greater public display than that accorded operational battle honours. However, an appropriate representation of the medallion may be permanently displayed at the brow on the ceremonial kisbee stand on one of Her Majesty’s Canadian ships, with the year of the award lettered in gold.

In the fall of 2009, the CF Unit Commendation scroll was modified as part of an effort to standardize the certificate accompanying all CF departmental awards. The new scroll is printed on cream-coloured card paper with no border and bears the CF badge embossed in gold. It is inscribed in both official languages with the name of the formation, unit or sub-unit concerned, an appropriate bilingual citation, and is signed by the CDS. No longer framed, the scroll is presented in a blue leather folder embossed on the cover with the CF badge in gold.

As of 1 January 2016, a total of 147 CF Unit Commendations have been awarded; this includes three CDS Commendations which were originally awarded to groups and then converted to CF Unit Commendations.

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