Lions and chevrons are featured on the shield that forms the university’s coat of arms and that is imprinted on graduates’ diplomas. Derived from traditional heraldry, it has been used since 1961 and was registered with the Court of the Lord Lyon in 1987. The shield uses the official university colours of gold, black, and white, and its symbols refer to the university’s base in the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo.
The unusual double chevrons were borrowed from the coat of arms of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, and the red lions are similar to those on the coat of arms of the Duke of Wellington, victor at the 1815 Battle of Waterloo. The lions also reflect the tough and innovative spirit of the university’s founders and builders, and the black and white in the chevron are the colours of Prussia, reflecting the Germanic background of many Waterloo County settlers. Beneath the shield in the university seal appears the university’s motto, Concordia cum veritate, “In harmony with truth.”