Freedom of the City

View of Downtown and Burrard Inlet

The Freedom of the City is the highest award given by the City of Vancouver.

The City grants the award only in exceptional cases to individuals and groups of the highest merit. The recipient is usually an individual or group who has gained national and international acclaim in the arts, business, or philanthropy, and who has brought recognition to Vancouver through their achievements.

The City began honouring individuals and groups with the Freedom of the City Award in 1936.

Recipients of the award are recognized during a special ceremony at Council, which consists of the reading and presentation of a framed certificate, and the presentation of the Freedom Medal. Recipients have their names inscribed in the Book of Freedoms.

Members of City Council nominate individuals for the award. According to the Vancouver Charter (Section 205), these nominations must be approved by unanimous vote of Council.

Freedom of the City honorees

Yosef Wosk

Awarded March 1, 2022, Yosef Wosk is a scholar, educator, author, businessperson, art collector, rabbi, peace activist, and philanthropist.

Cornelia Oberlander

Awarded May 18, 2021, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander was a pioneer in landscape architecture and a beloved member of Vancouver’s Jewish community.

Margaret Mitchell

Awarded October 18, 2016. Margaret Anne Mitchell was a social activist, community developer, and a courageous feminist.

Vancouver Police Pipe Band

Awarded January 23, 2014. The Vancouver Police Pipe Band is a musical ensemble of 35 pipers and drummers made up of current and retired police members and civilian volunteers. The band started in 1914 and has performed on behalf of the city around the world, winning awards and recognitions for excellence.

Judy Graves

Awarded January 23, 2014. Judy Graves has been an extraordinary force for positive change as a pioneer and leader working to end homelessness. Throughout her 33-year career with the City, she cultivated caring connections with people living on the streets and in shelters, and served as a tireless advocate on behalf of those marginalized by homelessness.

Jim Pattison

Awarded January 23, 2014. Jim Pattison is one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs and a generous philanthropist who has always remained true to his Vancouver upbringing. The Jim Pattison Group, of which he is chairman, CEO and president, is headquartered in Vancouver and employs over 35,000 people in more than 400 locations worldwide.

Jim Green

Awarded February 27, 2012. Whether it was as a city councillor, developer, university lecturer, opera lover, author, union organizer, or community advocate, social justice advocate Jim Green has demonstrated an unbounded love for our city and all its citizens. Vancouver is better for it and countless Vancouver residents have been touched by his work.

Milton Wong

Awarded August 1, 2011. Throughout his professional career, Business Leader Milton Wong has shown remarkable business acumen combined with a strong sense of social responsibility. He has made tremendous contributions across a wide spectrum of fields – finance, arts and culture, sustainability, community development, multiculturalism, academia, and philanthropy.

Art Phillips

Awarded July 6, 2010. Former Vancouver Mayor Art Phillips is a champion of livability and inclusivity. During his time in office, he fundamentally changed the political and social direction of our city. He has made an indelible mark on Vancouver, and his leadership and achievements continue to influence and inspire the City today.

Freedom of the City honorees prior to 2010

View the list of Freedom of the City recipients honoured by City Council prior to 2010.

Michael Harcourt

Awarded February 28, 2017, Mike Harcourt is a former Mayor of Vancouver, Premier of British Columbia, and a published author, community activist, lawyer by trade and the former British Columbia Treaty Commission federal commissioner.

Dr. David Suzuki

Awarded June 23, 2015. Dr. David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist, and broadcaster.