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This year, it's Silver Medals in duplicate for top marks

Medal 1 Front page grad Medal 2

For the first time anyone can remember, it's a tie. The Governor-General's Silver Medal, awarded at spring convocation for the top grade-point average, has been won by two students.

They are Véronique Campbell, a Biology student in the Science College, and Benoît Goudreault-Émond, who is in Computer Engineering. Both have GPAs of 4.26 -- 4.3 is perfection.

As a result, Huguette Albert, Administrative Assistant to the Registrar, had to phone Rideau Hall, the Governor-General's residence in Ottawa, to request another medal. When she spoke to an official at the Chancellery of Honours, which handles these matters, Albert said, "she seemed very surprised that there was a tie."

The Governor-General's Academic Medals were struck back in 1873, when the then viceroy, the Earl of Dufferin, felt there should be a way to recognize the scholastic achievements of Canadians from coast to coast.

Today, they are awarded to the student with the highest standing at his or her institution at four levels: Bronze for graduating secondary-school students, Bronze Collegiate at the post-secondary diploma level, Silver at the undergraduate level and Gold at the graduate level.

At Concordia, we award the Silver Medal at spring convocation, and the Gold Medal at the single convocation ceremony held in the fall.

As it turned out, the medal has been redesigned this year, and a description supplied by the Chancellery gives the details:

"The obverse of the medal [in photo above, at left] depicts the likenesses of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and His Excellency John Ralston Saul. The curved lines in the background are calligraphic flourishes symbolizing Their Excellencies' involvement with the spoken and written word.

"The reverse of the medal [seen above, at right] honours life, integrating air, fire, water, earth and plants and echoing the knowledge and wisdom passed on by elders to new generations. The design is inspired by the circle of life and the four sacred directions. . .

"The central circle features the shield of Her Excellency's personal coat of arms. It is a blend of eastern and western symbolism: the Chinese-style phoenix represents Mme Clarkson's family's roots in the Yoysan and Hakka people in southern China and her birthplace, Hong Kong. This Chinese phoenix is linked with the western cultural symbolism of the bird rising from the flames, representing rebirth and recreation.

"The maple leaf in the flames dramatizes the new beginnings of Her Excellency's family as Canadians. Mme Clarkson's long career as a television journalist is represented by the lightning flash. The Royal Crown symbolizes her service as Governor-General and as the Sovereign's representative. . . ."

Each of the Silver Medals will be presented at the recipients' own convocation ceremonies, Véronique Campbell's at one of the Arts and Science ceremonies, and Benoît Goudreault-Émond's at the Engineering and Computer Science ceremony.

For more on these students, click here. - Barbara Black

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