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The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) crest: it’s our organization’s most important and recognizable symbol, proudly displayed on every official document, poster, web page, and uniform. But what does it really mean, and how does a simple graphic say so much about who we are and what we do?
Our crest is actually better referred to as a badge, a “crest” being the emblem above a helmet and shield in a coat of arms. These were originally used in medieval times in conjunction with a coat of arms so that knights, fully armoured and virtually identical to their enemies when in close combat, could clearly identify their friends and foes. Later uses throughout Europe included expanded use by families and clans (often with royal connections) to proudly display their identity at home and abroad.
Today, arms and badges are still used for identification, though the design, display, and granting of such symbols is now the domain of a strictly regulated field known as heraldry. Canada’s status as a constitutional monarchy means that responsibility for heraldry ultimately lies with the Queen, who delegates this function to the Governor General. The operational aspects of heraldry are therefore overseen by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, located at Rideau Hall.
Back to the CSC connection – in 1979, the Canadian Penitentiary Service was renamed the Correctional Service of Canada and given a new mandate of protecting communities by exercising humane control, while helping offenders become law-abiding citizens. Along with this came the need for a new Service-wide identifier, so the then-Commissioner Donald Yeomans solicited designs from across the organization. While you can see in these pages some of the other designs that were considered, the version eventually selected was a blend of elements deemed to be most relevant to CSC’s new identity and role.
As is standard with heraldry, almost every element (even the colours) on our badge has a unique symbolism and significance. Starting from the top, the crown is the symbol of service to the Crown stemming from our monarchical traditions. The surrounding six-pointed star was originally used as the badge for the Canadian Penitentiary Service, this being our link to the traditions and heritage of the organization.
The maple leaf in the centre should need no explaining, as this is a required element for all Canadian government heraldry. As for the torch, this is a symbol of learning and knowledge, a beacon of light and hope which makes clear the lessons to be learned by offenders under our care and control, as well as the wisdom required by those who seek to reform them.
The key is especially significant in a correctional setting – though you will notice that this one is upside down to symbolize training, education, parole, and the eventual unlocking of the door at the termination of an offender’s sentence. One other important feature is the green annulus (band) behind the motto. This colour represents our volunteers, a critical link to eventually reintegrating inmates back into the community.
The last (but perhaps most important) identifier is our motto: Futura Recipere – “to grasp the future.” A senior administrator at CSC in the late 1970s, Roman Bertrand, used his knowledge of Latin gained during his time as a priest to express our mission of encouraging offenders to look towards a brighter future in a manner that is both simple and powerful.
People, pride, and tradition…represented by a crest, and brought to life by your everyday actions in workplaces across the country. Happy Anniversary CSC!
Other designs that were considered