Heritage Structure | Section 3 – Definitions

Table of contents
  1. The following definitions and explanations are provided to assist the reader with terminology associated with heraldic terms and others used throughout this chapter (French translation in brackets).


  1. Badge. A distinctive device, symbol or emblem worn as a sign of allegiance, membership, authority, achievement, etc. (insigne).
    1. Usage. In the CAF, there are three types of officially approved badges: primary, secondary and supplementary. Unofficial designs such as logos are not badges and their use is not authorized except for specific purposes limited in time. See the definition of unofficial designs.
      1. Primary badges. The official, principal visual identifiers for military organizations (units, personnel branches, regiments, formations and standing commands). Primary badges are designed in accordance with both military customs and Canadian heraldic rules. They are approved by the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada. Primary badges are typically utilized as branch and regimental cap badges (slightly simplified in order to facilitate the means of production of these metal or embroidered items) (insignes principaux).
      2. Secondary badges. Identifiers that denote nationality, rank, appointments, flying and hazardous specialty skills, occupation, units (shoulder titles and unit badges) and commemoration of events. For example, this category includes the Sea Service Insignia and marksmanship badges. They are approved either by the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada or by the Inspector of CAF Colours and Badges on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff depending on the nature of the badge (insignes secondaires).
      3. Supplementary badges. Additional identifiers that use components of a primary badge and are only authorized for certain units or branches based on tradition, custom or unique substantiation. Badges borne on collars, buttons, camp flags, field formation patches, Command pockets and the use of the centre of primary badges in Regimental Colours are examples of supplementary badges. They are approved by the Inspector of CAF Colours and Badges on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff (insignes supplémentaires).
      4. Insignia. A badge or other device such as rank insignia, name tag, buttons, unit identifiers, occupation badge or flying and specialist badges which serve to identify a person, his rank, branch or regimental affiliation, occupation and qualifications. The terms “insignia” and “badge” are often used interchangeably (insignes connexes).
      5. Obsolete badges. Badges no longer in use. Obsolete badges remain the property of the CAF. The authority for their use is vested in the Inspector of CAF Colours and Badges (insignes périmés).
      6. Unofficial designs. Emblems or logos that do not necessarily abide by heraldic rules. They are locally authorized by commanders to recognize particular events, anniversaries or attainments of a temporary nature, e.g. sports meets and teams such as a naval field gun competition team. Logos may also serve to provide brand recognition for a programme or social campaign. Unofficial designs may not be worn on military uniforms (except for commemorative pins) or be used in official correspondence. They are locally approved by commanding officers (emblèmes non officiels).
    2. Components of a primary badge. A primary badge consists of the following components (see Annex B for a depiction) (éléments d’un insigne):
      1. Annulus. The circular ring of certain badge frames on which is sometimes inscribed the unit’s name or motto (anneau).
      2. Centre. The portion of a badge inside the badge frame specific to the unit (centre).
      3. Charges. Objects, living creatures or geometric shapes or patterns depicted in specific colours on the field of a badge (meubles).
      4. Field. The background colour of the centre of the badge (champ).
      5. Frame. The frame holding the centre of a badge (encadrement).
      6. Royal crown. Heraldic emblem based on the St. Edward’s (coronation) Crown. It is a symbol of sovereignty, authority and prestige. Permission to use the Royal crown, on its own or as part of another emblem, is the sole prerogative of the Sovereign. Permission is sought through the Canadian Heraldic Authority (couronne royale).
  2. Blazon. The technical description of a coat of arms, flag or badge, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image (blason).
  3. Canadian Heraldic Authority (CHA). The Authority exists to serve Canadians by creating officially sanctioned heraldic emblems and by maintaining records of Canada’s heraldic heritage. It encourages a high standard of heraldic art and the appropriate use of heraldic emblems. The Authority’s main activities include the granting of new heraldic emblems; the registration of existing emblems; the recording of native emblems; the creation of military badges, flags and other insignia of the CAF; the provision of heraldic information as well as the identification of historic heraldry and maintaining the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada. The Canadian Heraldic Authority is headed by the Governor General and administered by three senior officers: the Herald Chancellor (the Secretary to the Governor General), the Deputy Herald Chancellor (the Deputy Secretary, Chancellery), and the Chief Herald of Canada (director of the Canadian Heraldic Authority) (Autorité héraldique du Canada).
  4. Coat of Arms. An emblem in colour belonging to an individual or a corporate body, its arrangement and form being subject to specific rules (armoiries).
  5. Colours. There are traditionally seven colours in heraldry: yellow (Or), white (Argent), red (Gules), blue (Azure), green (Vert), black (Sable) and purple (Purpure). These colours are conceptual colours and shades can vary (couleurs).
  6. Crest. An emblem placed on the top of a helmet, which is above the shield in an illustration of a coat of arms. Note that a crest is not a coat of arms, nor a badge (cimier).
  7. Emblem. An image or object representing a country, organization, or family (emblème).
  8. Heraldry. The science that studies coats of arms, flags and badges, their colours, charges, composition, description, transmission, etc. (héraldique).
  9. Logo. An emblematic design adopted by an organization for identification purposes (logo).
  10. Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada. The repository of heraldic emblems that have been granted, registered, approved or confirmed since the establishment of the Canadian Heraldic Authority on June 4, 1988 (Registre public des armoiries, drapeaux et insignes du Canada).
  11. Royal Cypher. The Sovereign’s monogram below the Royal crown. It is used in the insignia of orders, decorations and medals, and on various badges. (chiffre royal).
  12. Symbol. An image that represents or stands for something abstract (e.g. the dove, symbol of peace) (symbole).


  1. Accoutrements. Accessories that are worn for special purposes or for special occasions. These include aiguillettes; royal cyphers and personal badges; ceremonial belts, slings and related equipment; ceremonial swords and pistols; sashes; pace sticks and canes; mourning bands; name tags and tapes; Remembrance Day poppies; and commemorative pins imposed by the Government of Canada or authorized by the CDS. Rules on the wear of accoutrements are detailed in A-DH-265-000/AG-001 Canadian Armed Forces Dress Instructions (attributs).
  2. Canadian Forces Organization Order (CFOO). An order promulgated to formalize the organization of a unit, formation or command of the CAF. It is published by VCDS / C Prog under the authority of the CDS, for each command, formation, unit or other element of the CAF. It normally describes a unit or other element's role, command and control relationships, language designation, support services relationships, and channels of communication. It is an organizational document and not intended for any other purpose. (Ordonnance d’organisation des Forces canadiennes).
  3. Copyright Act. Federal statute governing copyright law in Canada first passed in 1921. (Loi sur le droit d’auteur)
  4. Federal Identity Program (FIP). The Canadian government’s corporate identity program. The purpose of the FIP is to clearly identify each program and service of the government or the Government of Canada in general. Managed by the Treasury Board Secretariat, this program, and the government’s communication policy, helps to frame the public image of the government. (Programme de coordination de l’image de marque).
  5. Inspector of CAF Colours and Badges. An officer appointed by the CDS to oversee the process by which Colours and Badges for the Canadian Armed Forces are authorized, designed, used and disposed (inspecteur des drapeaux consacrés et des insignes des Forces armées canadiennes).
  6. Ministerial Organizational Order (MOO). A legal document signed by the MND that authorizes an organizational change in an element of the CAF; specifically, the creation, disbandment, change to the name, embodiment or allocation of the element (arrêté ministériel d’organisation).
  7. Trade-mark. A trade-mark is a word (or words), a design, or a combination of these, used to identify the goods or services of one person or organization and to distinguish them from those of others in the marketplace (marque de commerce).
  8. Trade-marks Act. The federal legislation governing trade-mark registration in Canada. (Loi sur les marques de commerce).

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