Did you know that it’s against the law to wear military medals if you didn’t earn them?
The little-known law, Section 419 in the Criminal Code of Canada, is titled ‘unlawful use of military uniforms or certificates.’ The law also says that it’s illegal to wear a military uniform, or something similar enough to a uniform that it could be mistaken for one.
One group that’s well aware of the law is Stolen Valour Canada, an organization that’s dedicated to calling out people who allegedly have worn military medals they didn’t earn.
This week, the group said in a social media post that an Okanagan man did just that.
The tweet questions the man’s claim that he was a corporal with military service. It also pointed out that the man had a photo hanging in a Legion hall in the South Okanagan.
In response to that tweet, the B.C. Legion said the photo was being removed.
Global News reached out to Stolen Valour Canada and the B.C. Legion regarding the post, along with the Canadian military.
In related news, the Canadian Press reported that the Royal Canadian Legion has expelled two members for wearing military commendations that they did not earn.
Legion dominion president Thomas Irvine would not identify the two members in an interview with The Canadian Press this week, except to say that one is from Ontario and the other from British Columbia. Each was given an opportunity to explain their actions before being expelled.
“The Legion has taken a big hit over the years on different cases of stolen valour, and justly so,” Irvine told the Canadian Press of past criticisms the organization was not doing enough to curb such behaviour by members.
“But I’m tired of it. We’ve got to put a stop to this.”
Not only do those who make illegitimate claims of military service or sacrifice degrade the honour of those who have served, Irvine said, they also tarnish the reputation of the Legion if they are members of the organization.
“Stolen valour is stolen service and it’s just totally wrong,” said Irvine, who was a military reservist for 23 years.
“This kind of stuff has to stop within the Legion; it’s got to stop, period, within Canada. It’s against the law.”
In an email to Global News, Stolen Valour Canada said while it has no direct access to military records, it uses open-source research, including websites, newspaper articles, photographic images, searchable databases of medal recipients and extracts from online military documents in Canada.
“We can determine whether an individual is in contravention of laws, rules and/or regulations, and/or the legitimacy of any public claims being made,” said the email, adding the Canadian military isn’t big, so when someone makes a claim, they likely know someone who can either verify or dismiss it.