This prestigious award is presented annually to one prominent Canadian who has made outstanding contributions towards the security and defence of Canada and the preservation of our democratic values. The Award honours the bravery and sacrifices of the Canadian soldiers who were victorious at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

Born in Montreal, Bill Graham was raised in Vancouver and then Toronto, completing his undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Toronto, where he received his LL.B. in 1964.  Further studies at l’Université de Paris led to his Doctorat en Sciences Juridiques in 1969.  Active as a practicing lawyer in international commercial law, Bill’s early career included teaching at l’Université de Montreal, McGill University and the University of Toronto.  First elected to Parliament in 1993, he served continuously until 2007 when he left active political life. Since that time, he became and continues to serve as Chancellor of Trinity College, was for five years Chairman of the Atlantic Council of Canada, from 2007 has served with the Canadian International Council as Vice-Chair and then Chair and has been the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary and international History since 2011.

An active and engaged member of Parliament, Bill Graham played an influential role in the shaping of Canada’s international engagement, in particular for defence and security.  After positions of significant leadership on the behalf of Canada with the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas, he was named Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2002 followed by his appointment as Minister of National Defence from 2004 until 2006.

In these two Ministerial positions, he was key in building and implementing the national response to and posture for the U.S.-led Global War on Terrorism.  This included not only the difficult task of marshalling the inter-departmental resolve and resources necessary for what became the most significant military deployment since the Korean War, but also the political guidance for National Defence to shape and then execute the complex deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces to a combat mission in Kandahar in support of Government of Canada objectives within the NATO mission in Afghanistan.  Based on this experience, he then followed up with a fundamental review of the Canadian defence policy as a whole-of-government document, resulting in a comprehensive International Policy Statement – Defence in 2005.  This guidance, combined with organisational, doctrinal and modernisation/ recapitalisation changes, initiated an important transformation that still continues to influence defence policy and plans of today and tomorrow.

Since his departure from the House of Commons, Bill Graham has remained committed to influencing and shaping the thinking on Canada’s international engagement as well as defence policy.  A longstanding leader in major councils and advisory groups such as the Atlantic Council of Canada, his influence is best exemplified in his most recent role as one of the four members of the Minister’s Advisory Panel for the Defence Policy Review – the only politician in this key advisory body.  He played a significant role in their success in helping secure a renewal of the Government of Canada’s commitment to a modern defence policy with capable, effective Armed Forces.

Past recipients of the Vimy Award include eminent Canadians, from a wide variety of backgrounds.

The 2017 Vimy Award Selection Committee was composed of Major-General Daniel Gosselin (Retired) as Chair and, as members: The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, General Jonathan Vance, Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard (Retired), Dr. James Boutilier, Mr. Donald Chynoweth, Lieutenant-General Michel Gauthier (Retired), Mrs. Louise Mercier, Mr. Grant McDonald, Vice-Admiral Denis Rouleau (Retired), Mrs. Elinor Sloan and Commodore Kelly Williams (Retired).

The award will be presented to The Honourable Bill Graham on Friday, 3 November, at a gala reception and dinner at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa. Dinner tickets and information about this signature event can be obtained by contacting Louise Côté at

Please direct any other enquiries, including corporate sponsorship opportunities to CDA and CDA Institute Executive Director, Matthew Overton ( or Director of Business and Programs Jennifer Giguere, (

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