Over the past decade we have noticed a rampant increase in the number of people who are wearing their orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. The cadre of people who flagrantly violate the official rules on how you are supposed to wear your medals ranges from the average veteran right up to current and former Governors General. Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that the higher the rank of the individual the more likely they are to just wear whatever they want, however they want. We like to think of this as “Instant Dictator Syndrome” or self-aggrandizement at its most obvious.

Why do people wear their medals incorrectly? Often it is because they simply do not know any better. If you are one of these people you should consult WEARING ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS which is available from the Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall. This guide will help you figure out how you are supposed to wear your officially granted orders, decorations and medals.

When it comes to wearing your medals incorrectly the worst offenders tend to be former Governors General, Lieutenant Governors and retired Generals. When these people – all in authority and all surrounded by staff who know better – wear their medals wrong they are obviously suffering from the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. The attitude accompanied with this most severe condition is “the more medals I wear the more important I will look.”

This simple blog is aimed at revealing the myriad of fellow Canadians who cannot seem to wear their medals correctly.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Hon. Myra Freeman, CM, ONS

The Hon. Myra Freeman in centre front.
Here is another Lieutenant Governor offender, well she is a former Lieutenant Governor, but she still manages to break all the rules. Here we have a photo of Mrs. Freeman with more Order of Nova Scotia recipients. But what is that beside her Golden Jubilee Medal... it looks a lot like the Australia Defence Force Champion Shot Medal... but I dont' believe that Freeman ever served in the ADF. 
ADF Champion Shot Medal

But no, it is the Corps of Commissionaires Distinguished Service Medal... an award that is not sanctioned or approved by the Government of Canada for wear, which means that in this photo Freeman is violating Order-in-Council 1998-591 which clearly states that "7. The insignia or orders, decorations and medals not listed in this Directive, as well as foreign awards the award of which has not been approved by the Government of Canada shall not be mounted or worn in conjunction with the orders, decorations and medals listed in this Directive." While the Corps of Commissionaires Long Service Medal is included in the directive, the Corps of Commissionaires Distinguished Service Medal is not included in the Directive. She is breaking a federal regulation. 

    That's not all. There's more! Here is Honorary Captain Navy Freeman dressed up in her CF uniform. She is not only wearing her Vice-Regal Badge (against CF Regs) but what is that ribbon she is wearing after her Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon...she is sporting the ribbon of the Corps of Commissionaires Distinguished Service Medal which not only violates Order-in-Council 1998-591, but also the CF dress regs. She is wearing an unauthorized ribbon on a CF uniform. All this aside from her upside down shoulder boards! Where is a Chief when you need one? The buttons, ribbons and bows brigade needs to get after this Captain(N)!


  1. You know, I am a huge person on the uniform to look the best but, sometimes you will have people do the "wrong" thing. This I believe shouldn't be something to attack the person to make them look bad, but, to inform them of this error so they can fix it. By doing something like this, your just making her Hon. Myra Freeman look bad, even though, I believe if you are to go look at all the good she has done, something like this is insulting to her and you have no right to do this. I'd like to see all the errors you have made in your life and compare them to hers, along with the good ones and see who the better person is here...

    Sorry, but I don't believe in doing stuff like this to people anymore since I was a kid in Jr High...

  2. Well Cyril1278 what do you suggest we do when people intentionally break the rules? Just ignore their disregard for the rules the rest of us are supposed to follow? I don't for a moment question the Hon. Myra Freeman's great work as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, but I do question her ability to wear her uniform and medals correctly. She has been honoured with an appointment in the Canadian Forces, the very least she can do is follow the rules that all other members of the CF are required to follow. Often with people in high position it is only through public knowledge of thier errors that they will see fit to make a correction. This lady has been in public life for more than a decade, wearing medals and uniforms for that entire time. Surely 10 years is enough time to learn how to do these things properly.

  3. Inspector General:

    Unlike Don Ethell and the current Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, most of our Lieutenant Governors are civilians. They have no formal military training or training on how to wear their Orders, Dcorations and Medals. The correct thing to do is contact the Lieutenant Governor's Sectretary or military aides at the Government House or Office where they live and or work from) and let them know if if they are wearing Honours wrong.

    This also includes Honourary Colonels and Honourary Lieuyenant Colonels who were not in the military. Those in uniform had years of experience and training with how to wear Orders, Decorations and Medals. A civilian appointed as an Honouary Colonel or to a Vice-Regal appointment do not. The correct thing to do is contact that individual's aide or military advisor (Office or CF).

    The same goes for those retired military members in Vice-Regal and Honourary Appointments (no matter how bad or horrible they wear their Honours.

    Now with that said, I fully agree with you that if you are issued an Order, Decoration, Medal or Commendation you should read up on the correct format of wearing it, or have you military aid or advisor to research it.

    For the past 30 years (starting with Prime Minister Trudeau's Government) the number of people who work for the Federal Government Honurs and Awards (with the CF/DND, Rideau Hall and Vetetans Affairs Canada) has been cut to the bone. One department use to have 32 staff members to deal with all matters of Honours and Awards (and the policing of). When I spoke to a key person in this department before Christmas I learned they are down to 5 people now. That number will drop even more as of 1 April 2013. In other words the government does not care.

    Last, I have seen members of the Order of St. John wearing the Serving Member, Officer and Knight levels of that Order all at the same time. I have seen people wear the Gulf war medal, plus others, and they never served. I even know one gentleman who wears the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Canada 125 Medal. He was never awarded these three medals (I checked with Rideau Hall) nor is he old enough to been presented the 125. At the end of the day there is nothing anyone can do about it. It really takes from those who earned the Honours. Thank you for caring Inspector General.

  4. The sad thing is, she would be entitled to wear the "Commissionaires Long Service Medal", if the Corps had issued it to her. Although the CLSM is meant to be awarded after 12 years of good service to Commissionaires, the Corps can give it to people who have assisted them (without having served 12 years). Often, people who are not Commissionaires that recieve the Commissionaires Distinguished Service Medal also receive the CLSM. She should just contact the Corps about recieving one, and replace the CDSM with it on her uniform.

  5. Re: Hon. Capt(N) Freeman's shoulder boards - if you look carefully at the one on her left shoulder, you can see that the button is outboard of the stripes, indicating that it is also being worn wrong way around. At least she's consistent on her port and starboard sides :)