Who We Are

The Award equips young Canadians for life. 

We believe that not all learning happens in the classroom. In fact we believe that some of life's biggest lessons happen in the least likely locations. This is how our framework helps young people discover a talent, trait or passion at which they can excel, giving them the confidence to take their future in stride. 

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a global program with the goal of challenging, empowering and recognizing young people between the ages of 14 and 24. Since 1963, we have helped motivate young Canadians to set goals and challenge themselves to take control of their lives and futures. The classroom is not the only place to nurture the potential of one of our country’s greatest natural resources – our youth. We strive to reach young Canadians in communities across the country and provide a platform that helps them chart their individual lives and equips them with important life skills.

Today, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award - Canada can be found right across the country, engaging over 20,000 young people and over 2,600 Award Leaders annually. Our program is run in cities, rural and remote areas, through government and independent schools, universities and colleges, and a wide range of organizations such as Cadets, Scouts, Girl Guides, Indigenous youth groups, new immigrant support programs, sports clubs, employers, youth detention centres and community youth organizations.

What we do 

The Award challenges young Canadians to develop skills and tools to improve themselves and their communities by encouraging them to go beyond their comfort zone. Many young people, through lack of confidence, opportunity or education, feel incapable of affecting real change in their communities. Our unique framework is designed to help them discover that they are more capable and powerful than they ever dreamed.

Our Mission

To ensure all people in Canada are aware of the Award, the life skills it brings and, through strong delivery partners, have the opportunity to participate 
Our mission drives our people to work towards our vision. Working hard to ensure we generate greater awareness and understanding of the Award through our networks of Award Holders and supporters. Working hard to highlight the life skills the Award develops in individuals for the long-term and the benefits Award holders bring to their communities. Working hard to build a network of partners who use the Award locally to best effect.

Our Vision

Young people in Canada from ALL backgrounds and life circumstances equipped as individuals to succeed in life. 
Our vision is simple to understand: whoever you are, wherever you come from and whatever you define as success, the Award can be used to help you develop essential skills that only come through experience. As a young person, a high school diploma, college certificate or university degree shows your technical prowess.  An Award certificate testifies to your “character” and represents the life skills you have developed, including confidence, a sense of purpose, resilience, problem solving, compassion and respect for diversity.

Our Philosophy

The Award is about individual challenge and developing a sense of commitment. With guidance from Award Leaders, Assessors or other Award volunteers, each young person is encouraged to examine themselves, their interests, abilities, and ambitions, then set challenges in the four different sections of the Award. These challenges become the goals young people aspire to reach and require persistence and determination to overcome.  

Our Three Aims 

We believe we need to work toward three aims with our delivery partners to be successful in our vision:

  1. Expand Access
    Improve access for new and diverse groups of young people, removing barriers to participation

  2. Extend Reach
    Increase the social infrastructure and geographic reach, taking the Award to our audiences

  3. Strengthen Impact
    Improve the impact and quality of delivery, proving we are the program we say we are


Impact of the Award 

The Award in Canada will monitor progress of the 2020-2026 Strategy through the metrics highlighted in the plan below. We will provide evidence of our impact and value to society through four key impacts:

  • Improved mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • Improved employability and earning potential
  • Improved physical health and fitness
  • Increased engagement with charitable and community causes

To learn more about our Impact click here


The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award grew out of the efforts of three men: The Duke of Edinburgh; Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist and founder of Outward Bound, and Lord Hunt, leader of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest. The Award was first launched in The United Kingdom in 1956 to motivate young people to become involved in a balanced program of voluntary self-development activities.

Based on the philosophy of Kurt Hahn, founder and headmaster of Gordonstoun School in Scotland (where HRH The Prince Philip attended), the Award was designed around four sections: Rescue and Public Service Training, the Expedition, Pursuits and Projects, and Fitness.

The Award Goes Global

As soon it launched in the United Kingdom, The Award quickly spread and was soon running in many schools and youth groups outside of the British Commonwealth. The unique composition of the Award program is made it easy to be adapted and integrated into many different cultures and societies. To find out more the global reach of the Award visit The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.

The Award in Canada

The Award was officially launched to Canadian Youth in 1963.  Enrollment grew gradually but steadily. By November 1964, the very first Bronze and Silver Award recipients were honored in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. In 1966, the first Gold Award Ceremony was held in Ottawa. His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip presented 18 recipients with their Gold Awards. Over the years the Award program took root in Canada and an estimated 500,000 young Canadians have since benefited from the program. Download a history of The Award in Canada from 1963 to present.

For All Young People Everywhere

Global expansion over the last 50 years has enabled the Award to continue its growth and touch the lives of young people in more than 130 countries. The spread of the Award across the globe is testament to its universal appeal and the vision of its founders. The impact of the Award on young people is extraordinary -  it transforms lives. 


Updated Feb 2020