What Gov. Gen. Julie Payette's new coat of arms means

Julie Payette is taking over a new job today as Canada’s 29th Governor General, but her past career as an astronaut is well represented on her new coat of arms. Here's a closer look at what the elements of her shield represent.

Payette's past as an astronaut strongly influenced the design of her crest

The coat of arms for Gov. Gen. Julie Payette was unveiled on the occasion of her installation as Canada's 29th Governor General on Oct. 2, 2017. (Rideau Hall)

Julie Payette is taking over a new job today as Canada's 29th Governor General, but her past career as an astronaut served as inspiration for her new coat of arms.

Claire Boudreau, the chief herald of Canada, said that as soon as Payette's name was announced she started reading, researching online and watching interviews to learn more about how the governor general-designate saw herself. The Canadian Heraldic Authority safeguards the tradition of coat of arms in Canada.

Here's what the elements of Payette's coat of arms represent, according to Rideau Hall:

The Arms

One of the first things that catches the eye is the white wing in the centre of the coat of arms, beside the royal crown, a nod to Payette's journeys into space and symbolizing exploration, liberty and safety.

"As with birds protecting their young, the wing also conveys the strength and safety of family ties," Rideau Hall explained.

If that wasn't clear enough, the top of the shield is adorned with an astronaut's helmet representing the quest for knowledge beyond the world we know.

The Crest

If you're a classical music lover you might recognize the notes as the opening to the second movement of Alessandro Marcello's Oboe Concerto in D Minor.

The melody symbolizes Payette's passion and love for music, especially from the Baroque period.

The Motto

Translated from Latin "Per Aspera Ad Astra" means "Through hardship to the stars."

It's a motto used by Payette and her fellow astronauts to symbolize that there is hope in every situation, we just need to look for it.

The Supporters

The pair of Canadian lynx, "an elusive feline," explains Rideau Hall, holding the shield represents the people of Canada.

According to Boudreau, it's also an ode to the emblem created for Payette during her first space mission back in 1999.

They are wearing collars of stars and laurel leaves, or in French laurier, the name of Payette's son.

The Compartment 

The coat of arms is supported by the planet Earth, without borders, the way Payette would have seen it from space.

Payette is a Companion of the Order of Canada (of which she is now Chancellor) and a Knight of the National Order of Quebec, and those two honours are depicted over the Earth.

And the sigma, Σ, illustrates the power of facts and science.