In September 2006, a formal letter of petition to grant armorial bearings to the institution was approved by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, headed by the Governor General of Canada.
Starting in late 2006, a committee representing students, staff, faculty, retired faculty, Board/President’s Office and administration worked to determine appropriate symbolism and a motto that would represent the university’s past, present and future, while paying tribute to the university’s namesake, the Honourable Dr. J.W. Grant MacEwan.
The Coat of Arms was entered in Volume V, Page 268 of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada on March 20, 2008. The Coat of Arms was approved by the Board of Governors on April 10, 2008.
"To reflect the institution's name change, which occurred on September 24, 2009 (OC 481/2009), the Armorial Bearings were amended from Grant MacEwan College to Grant MacEwan University on May 20, 2010" (Volume V, page 516 of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada).
The arms (shield and rose image): The rose is the Alberta wild rose, the provincial floral emblem. The circle is a symbol of the never-ending process of learning and the principle of inclusiveness. The circle also represents the medicine wheel, an important symbol of the earliest inhabitants of the area, the First Nations peoples.
The crest (bird and walking stick): The sparrow was an important bird to Dr. J.W. Grant MacEwan, the university's namesake and a former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. It is mentioned in his personal creed, written in 1969. The sparrow’s outstretched wings indicate aspiration and striving. The sparrow perches on a walking stick, representative of the many that Dr. MacEwan carved. The walking stick signifies his reverence for the environment and nature. One of the walking sticks is used as the university’s mace; it represents the power of knowledge.
The motto: Discendo Floremus translates to “Through learning we flourish."
The supporters (griffins and field): The griffin symbolizes courage, swiftness and excellence. It was adopted in 1991 as the symbol of the university sports teams (the MacEwan Griffins). The prairie grass and wild roses reflect the Alberta landscape.