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Symbols of BC
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Use of "British Columbia"
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Official Symbols of British Columbia

British Columbia's Coat of Arms

(click on image for full history)

The shield of the province of British Columbia was originally granted by King Edward VII in 1906; the remaining elements of the Coat of Arms were subsequently granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on October 15, 1987. A complete history is available here.

It consists of several elements that hold historical, geographical and cultural significance for British Columbia:

The Union Jack on the shield symbolizes our colonial origins. Our geographic location between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains is represented by the wavy blue and silver bars and the setting sun.

The supporters, the stag and the ram, represent the former colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. The stag (elk) represents Vancouver Island and the ram (bighorn sheep) represents the mainland of the Province.

The Royal Crest (the crowned lion standing on the crown), wears a collar of dogwood flowers, and sits atop the golden helmet of sovereignty. Traditional heraldic elements of a wreath and mantling represent Canada's national colours. The golden helmet of sovereignty is placed between the shield and the crest to mark B.C.'s co-sovereign status in Confederation.

Our provincial flower, the dogwood, appears a second time entwining the Latin motto "Splendor Sine Occasu" which translates as "Splendour Without Diminishment."

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British Columbia's Provincial Flag

Adopted in 1960, the Provincial flag duplicates the design of the Shield of Arms of the Province. Its proportion is five by length and three by width.

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Pacific Dogwood - Provincial Flower

The Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) was adopted in 1956 as British Columbia's floral emblem. The Pacific Dogwood is a tree that grows six to eight metres high and flowers in April and May. In the autumn it is conspicuous for its cluster of bright red berries and brilliant foliage.

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Steller's Jay - Provincial Bird

The Steller's jay (Cyanacitta stelleri) became the Province's official bird on December 17, 1987. Coloured a vibrant blue and black, it is found throughout the Province. This lively, smart and cheeky bird was voted most popular bird by the people of British Columbia.

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Spirit Bear - Provincial Mammal

The Spirit Bear (also known as the Kermode Bear, Ursus americanus kermodei) was added to the list of B.C.'s official symbols in April 2006. The greatest concentration of Spirit Bears can be found on the Central Coast and North Coast of British Columbia. The Spirit Bear is not albino, but rather it is a black bear that has white fur due to a rare genetic trait.

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Jade - Provincial Gemstone

Jade became the official mineral emblem in 1968. Consisting mostly of nephrite, BC jade is prized by carvers of fine jewelry and sculptures at home and particularly in Asia. It is mined in many parts of British Columbia.

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Western Red Cedar - Provincial Tree

The Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata donn) was adopted as the official tree of the province on February 18, 1988. Historically, the tree has played a key role in the lives of west coast First Nations, and continues to be a valuable resource for the province.

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British Columbia's Provincial Tartan

The Provincial tartan has five colours, each with its own significance: blue for the ocean; white for the dogwood; green for the forests; red for the maple leaf; and gold for the crown and sun on the shield and flag. The tartan was adopted in 1974.

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Use of "British Columbia" in a name

The use of the initials "B.C." or the words "British Columbia" in a name is restricted by the Provincial Symbols and Honours Act. The act ensures that individuals or organizations do not provide the impression of exercising a function of the Government, when in fact there is no authority to do so.

An individual or organization wishing to use "BC" or "British Columbia" in a name, is required to submit an application to the Protocol Office. To have a copy mailed or faxed to you, please contact us. The form is also available for download in Word or PDF format.


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