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Civic heraldry of Canada
UNIVERSITIES CANADA (formerly: Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada)
Arms : Argent four pairs of maple seeds in saltire Vert.
Crest : On two closed books Vert, an open book proper bound and charged on the dexter page with a maple leaf Vert.
Supporters : Two polar bears each holding a feather Argent penned Vert and resting a hind paw on an Ionic capital Argent, all set on a quadrangle Vert.
Motto: VOX ERUDITIONIS
The arms were officially granted on May 15, 2015, previously to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada on May 10, 2004.
The central symbol is an adaptation of the emblems that have been used by the organization over the past few decades. Originally a way of indicating the letters AUCC – for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the original name of Universities Canada – the green shapes also resemble maple seeds, and thus refer to the maple leaf symbol of Canada and to the work of the Association and its member institutions in fostering intellectual growth in Canada. The use of the green colour reinforces the idea of growth.
The books refer not only to education in general, but also to the information-sharing work of the Universities Canada. The three of them are meant to indicate the three mandates of the organization in education, research, and service to the community. The maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada.
The polar bears are a particularly Canadian version of an animal that has long been used in heraldry and which is found in the mythology of many cultures. In different parts of the world the bear is symbolic of strength, bravery, wisdom, and protection of the young. It has also been associated with rites of passage and with ideas of new life. Mediæval bestiaries theorized that an adult bear could physically shape its young, an idea which can be used as a metaphor for education. The feather held by the bear represents not only the responsibilities of Universities Canada in research and information-sharing, but it can also allude to the use of an eagle feather by First Nations cultures as a symbol of authority and dialogue within an assembly. By extension, this can refer to the idea that Universities Canada is a “meeting place” for its member institutions, where concerns and information are shared. The Ionic capitals represent the classical origins of university education. The grassy compartment has been shown in a square form to indicate a quadrangle, a feature of many university campuses in Canada.
The motto means "A voice for higher learning".
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