2013 Award Recipients (for actions in 2011)
On February 25, 2013, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 20 persons in recognition of their acts of good citizenship in 2011. The Tribute to Good Citizenship ceremony was held in the Legislative Council Chamber of the main Parliament Building, presided over by the Minister of Justice, Bertrand St-Arnaud, who awarded 9 medals and 11 honourable citations.
The recipients were also given a lapel pin, which is a miniature replica of the medal.
The acts of good citizenship highlighted at the 27th Tribute to Good Citizenship ceremony were divided into categories.
Medals for Good Citizenship
The medal for good citizenship, accompanied by a gold lapel pin, may be awarded to a person who has accomplished an act of good citizenship under dangerous circumstances. Made of bronze and engraved with the recipient’s name, the two faces on the medal symbolize both aspects of the theme based on risking one's life to save the life of another.
In the "road accident" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Pierre Cameron, Longueuil
On February 8, 2011, early in the evening, Pierre Cameron was driving along Highway 132 in Longueuil. Suddenly, he noticed a man staggering along the opposite side of the divided highway, rubbing his eyes. He quickly took the first exit and doubled back to get closer. He parked his car behind the man to protect him, turned on his hazard warning lights and put on a safety vest, taking a second vest for the man.
As he got out of the car, Pierre Cameron almost lost his footing: the pavement was slick with fuel. The man, a trucker from the US, explained that while attempting unsuccessfully to plug a leak in his tanker truck, parked nearby, he had soaked himself and even swallowed some fuel. Mr. Cameron went to fetch a bottle of water from his car so that the man could rinse his eyes.
As traffic continued to speed past, Mr. Cameron used a road marker from his car to block off two of the three lanes, leaving one lane open close to the shoulder where the fuel had not spread. Mr. Cameron’s leisure activities required him to carry emergency equipment in his vehicle. He also picked up his fire extinguisher as a precaution.
Acutely aware of the serious danger presented by the leaking tanker truck and fearing that heat from a car exhaust would be enough to spark an explosion, Mr. Cameron asked other drivers to call the emergency services. None of them agreed to stay at the scene, however, leaving Mr. Cameron alone with the truck driver.
The police arrived shortly after, followed by the Longueuil firefighters, who took charge of the situation.
Pierre Cameron not only displayed a remarkable sense of organization in perilous circumstances, but also showed outstanding courage in the presence of grave danger.
Ani Müller, Repentigny
On April 4, 2011, late in the evening, there was steady rain and fog along Highway 158 between Berthierville and Joliette in the Lanaudière region. Ani Müller was driving towards Joliette and, as she passed a garage, she thought she could see and smell smoke. There was also a glimmer of light coming from a car. She circled back and contacted the emergency services.
As she got closer to the damaged car, she saw a man asleep in the driver’s seat. Tiny flames were licking the edge of the hood and the car was filled with smoke.
Ani Müller knocked hard on the door and, finding it was not locked, opened it. The man inside was choking on the smoke and regained consciousness with difficulty. She swiftly unbuckled his seatbelt, cut the motor, seized the man by the collar and dragged him with difficulty from the vehicle. Quickly, she helped him move further away as the fire began to take hold. In fact, Ani Müller only just had time to more her own car to safety and to return to the victim’s side before the burning car exploded.
Ms. Müller waited with the victim for the emergency services to arrive. They took around fifteen minutes to reach the scene, since they were coincidentally busy with a fire at a nearby house.
If Ani Müller had not trusted her instincts and decided to turn around, this road accident could have had a far more dramatic ending.
In the "fire" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Yannick Carrière, Saint-Bruno
In McMasterville, during the night of February 4, 2011, Yannick Carrière was asleep in the basement of the house he occupied with his spouse and their two sons. His mother and grandmother lived on the main floor, and a tenant, Maryse Bouchard, lived on the floor above.
Suddenly, he heard the alarm from the carbon monoxide detector. He ran to his sons’ room and noticed thick smoke coming from another part of the basement. Waking his younger son, Jérémi, he took him to the foot of the stairs to the main floor and told him to go and warn his grandmother. As the young boy started up the stairs, Mr. Carrière returned to the basement. The smoke was now so dense that his older son, Elliot, who had come out of the bedroom, was only visible by the light of the flames. He managed to guide Elliot to the staircase and told him to go upstairs.
Mr. Carrière went back to wake his spouse. The entire basement was now filled with smoke, and the couple first tried to escape by breaking the windows in the kitchen, to no avail. Feeling their way forwards, Yannick Carrière and his spouse struggled up the stairs but when they reached the exit were unable to open the door, overcome by the smoke. They collapsed and fell back down the stairs where, luckily, an air pocket gave them a chance to regain consciousness and escape.
The children were still inside the house on the main floor. After banging on the door, the couple caught sight of their older son, who was able to open it. Once the children were safe, Mr. Carrière went to get his mother, who had been able to move his grandmother to her wheelchair. He helped the two women leave the house, where smoke now filled the main floor.
There was still a tenant on the upper floor. Yannick Carrière raced up the outside stairs and forced the door open. He moved towards the bedroom through the thick smoke, and found the woman motionless, sitting in shock at the end of her bed. He had her follow him as he felt his way along the walls, after making sure that the woman’s son was not at home.
Everyone was now safe, outside in the snow, while the fire raged out of control and consumed the entire house.
Six people owe their lives today to the exemplary courage and determination of Yannick Carrière on a cold night in February 2011.
In the "risk of drowning" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Philippe Jacques-Bélair, Montréal
On April 8, 2011, Philippe Jacques-Bélair was with a friend in the nature park on Île-de-la-Visitation in Montréal, when a young woman, Doris Gionet, ran up and told them she had seen lifeless bodies floating in Rivière des Prairies.
While his friend called 911, Philippe ran to the river with Ms. Gionet, over a kilometre away. From the riverbank they could see three bodies floating face down in the water, about seven metres from the shore.
After looking in vain for a branch or any object that he could use to bring the bodies closer, Philippe decided to enter the water despite warnings from the other people present, who were convinced it was already too late.
After emptying his pockets of anything that might weigh him down, Philippe Jacques-Bélair stepped into the water. It was extremely cold and there was a slight current. When he reached the victims, he had water almost up to his neck. He caught hold of the clothes of a women and a five-year-old child and pulled them to the riverbank. From there, he could see another body in the water, and returned to bring back a baby only three months old.
Philippe and Ms. Gionet tried to resuscitate the mother and the older of the two children—the baby appeared to be beyond help—until the emergency services arrived a few minutes later. All three victims were taken to hospital. Philippe, soaked through and shivering, was also taken to hospital where he remained under observation until the late evening. Despite all his efforts, neither the mother nor the older of the two children survived. Only the baby's life was saved.
Philippe Jacques-Bélair not only demonstrated remarkable presence of mind—he also spared no effort to help others on that tragic afternoon.
Claude Veilleux, Beauceville
On June 20, 2011, around 11 a.m., Claude Veilleux was driving on Boulevard Renault in Beauceville when he saw some young people running along the banks of the Chaudière river, shouting as they ran. Wondering what the problem was, he stopped his truck. Someone he knew told him that a girl, Éricka Parent, had fallen into the water close to Île Ronde and was being carried away by the current.
Mr. Veilleux seized a hockey stick, hoping that he would be able to pull the girl back to shore. However, when he spotted her over 200 metres away, he realized that the hockey stick was useless and started running towards the river.
On the riverbank, he undressed and dived in. The water temperature was 13 oC, with a strong current after three days of rain. Mr. Veilleux swam towards the girl, who sank from view several times before regaining the surface.
Once he reached the girl, he asked her to let go of the branch she was holding on to and to trust him to get her back to shore. The girl was able to calm down and agreed to follow Mr. Veilleux, who managed to pull her back to the riverbank despite the distance. Passers-by were then able to lift Éricka to safety, and she was taken in charge by the emergency services.
Mr. Veilleux, exhausted, was able to clamber from the river with difficulty and returned to his vehicle to warm up. He then simply went back to work.
On this June 2011 morning, Claude Veilleux showed exceptional courage, and also proved that the bravest actions are often undertaken with total abnegation.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Robert-J. Brown, Lucien Flamand and Marie-Ève Paquin, La Sarre
On May 12, 2011, 12-year-old Mégan Dubé was coming home from school in La Sarre. As she got back to her house, the neighbour’s three pit-bull dogs ran at her and attacked her savagely. She attempted to protect her face with her hands, and screamed for help while being violently bitten all over her body.
A neighbour, Robert-J. Brown, heard her cries for help and ran to her assistance, hoping to force the dogs to let go by kicking them. Quickly, one of the pit-bulls turned against him; he lost his footing, fell to the ground and was bitten in turn.
At this point, three other neighbours, Lucien Flamand, Victor Blais and Alain Blais, arrived to provide assistance and tried to divert the dogs’ attention to get them away from their victims.
Just at that moment, Marie-Ève Paquin drove past the scene on her way to work; seeing that Mégan and Mr. Brown had at last managed to escape from the dogs, she opened the door of her car and shouted at them to jump in. She took them to hospital and stayed with Mégan until her parents arrived.
The three people who remained at the scene still had to deal with the dogs. While Victor and Alain Blais tried to entice them across the road, Mr. Flamand decided to run back home. Unfortunately, both Alain Blais and Mr. Flamand were attacked and bitten.
When the police officers arrived, they immediately shot and killed two of the dogs. The third dog escaped but was later found. Mr. Flamand had suffered the worst bites and was taken to hospital.
The events in the afternoon of May 2011 in La Sarre offered an outstanding example of solidarity between neighbours in the face of a clear danger.
Geneviève Champagne, Saint-Charles-Borromée
On November 5, 2011, Geneviève Champagne was returning home after spending the evening with friends. On the Boulevard Sainte-Anne viaduct, she caught sight of a young woman sitting on the parapet, her legs dangling over the edge. Intrigued, she turned around and parked her car not far away.
She approached the woman carefully, asking her softly what was happening and if she needed help. The young woman was in tears and begged Geneviève Champagne to leave her alone; she seemed to be both disoriented and intoxicated. However, Ms. Champagne managed to get close enough to grab hold of her and drag her to the ground. After a few seconds, the desperate young woman got up and started pushing Ms. Champagne, hurling insults and telling her to leave her alone. Ms. Champagne returned to her car and moved it out of the young woman’s sight before calling the emergency services. However, while speaking to the dispatcher she lost sight of the woman and got out of her car, frightened that she had jumped off the viaduct.
Back on the scene, she saw that the young woman had in fact climbed over the parapet and was now hanging on to the lower railing, with no support for her feet.
Grabbing on to the top of the guardrail, Ms. Champagne leaned forwards to catch hold of the desperate woman’s arm and pull her up. However, the young woman was becoming agitated and the manoeuvre was increasingly risky. Despite this, Ms. Champagne managed to pull her up to the guardrail and hold her there until the emergency services arrived a few moments later.
Geneviève Champagne was able, on the night of November 5, 2011, to focus all her energy to save a desperate young woman from herself and from certain death.
Honourable Citations for Good Citizenship
Honourable citations for good citizenship, accompanied by a silver lapel pin, may be awarded to an individual who has performed an act of courage or dedication under difficult circumstances. The honourable citation is a parchment certificate bearing the recipient’s name.
In the "road accident" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Serge Banville, Baie-Comeau
On August 29, 2011, at night, Serge Banville was driving his truck along Highway 138 Charlevoix. The weather was bad; Québec was battered with rain and strong winds from Hurricane Irene. Because of the water and debris strewn across the road he was driving slowly and listening to the CB radio channel used by truckers to inform each other about poor road conditions.
Around 1 a.m., a fellow trucker told him that Highway 138 was washed out close to kilometre 850, and Mr. Banville drove even more cautiously. Suddenly, as he came close to the danger spot, he saw the car in front of him disappear into a crevasse. He braked hard and told the other trucks behind him what he had just seen.
Seizing his fire extinguisher, he jumped from the truck. The car had rolled over on its side and the engine had caught fire. Mr. Banville could hear the two occupants groaning inside, and told them that help was on the way.
Three other truckers arrived on the scene. They tried to put out the fire with their fire extinguishers, but the flames just became stronger. They decided to descend into the crevasse, about a metre and a half deep, and were able to wrench the doors open, remove the occupants and lift them to safety. They took care of them until the arrival of the emergency services fifteen minutes later.
There can be no doubt that the actions of Serge Banville helped save the occupants of the vehicle from a dangerous situation.
In the "fire" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Mario Fréchette, Blainville
Late in the evening of May 21, 2011, Blainville resident Mario Fréchette was drinking coffee in his yard with his spouse and some friends. Suddenly, they saw flames leaping from the back of the house across the street, the home of André Leclerc and Madeleine Brunet.
Without delay, he rushed towards the house and realized that the rear wall was already engulfed in flames and that the fire was spreading.
He went to knock on the front door and, receiving no response, broke it down. He rushed upstairs to the bedrooms. There was not yet any smoke in the house and on the stairs he met Ms. Brunet, surprised by the sound of the breaking door and unaware of the problem. Mr. Fréchette explained that there was a raging fire at the back of the house and that she had to leave immediately. He took her outside, placed her in the care of his spouse Karine, and went back inside to wake Mr. Leclerc who was still asleep upstairs. He woke him, picked up the keys he needed to move the household cars out of the way, and helped him out of the house. The flames were by now licking the roof.
Once outside, Ms. Brunet began to worry about her cats. Since there was still not much smoke inside the house, Mr. Fréchette judged that he could return without danger. He managed to find and remove one of the cats, but considered that the situation was too dangerous to locate the second one.
Mario Fréchette’s calmness and presence of mind clearly prevented the fire from having deadly consequences. It should also be mentioned that Mr. Fréchette received a special commendation from the Governor General of Canada.
Ghyslain Grenier, Lachine
On November 22, 2011, Ghislain Grenier was spending the evening at his spouse’s home. The couple lived in two adjacent apartments in a cooperative of six neighbouring buildings in Lachine.
When the building’s fire alarm sounded, Mr. Grenier, who was also responsible for maintenance, went down to the ground floor to check the control board, which showed smoke in apartment 6.
He went up to check the apartment, and noticed that smoke was coming from under the door. The door was not hot to the touch and he opened it, but because of the dense smoke did not dare to enter the apartment. Knowing that it was occupied by a family with three children, he shouted out and knocked loudly on the door. Getting no response, he went back downstairs, after knocking on the door of the other apartment on the same floor.
Back home, he called the fire department and evacuated everyone from his and his spouse’s apartments. In the parking lot, they were quickly joined by all the other residents of the cooperative.
Suddenly, the occupants of the apartment where the fire had started appeared on the balcony; they were trapped by the flames that were now escaping from the patio door. A neighbour went to get a ladder, which Mr. Grenier then placed against the wall. He climbed up and asked the mother to hand him the children, one at a time, to take them to safety.
All the actions taken that evening by Ghyslain Grenier helped ensure that all the residents of the cooperative escaped safe and sound from the fire.
In the "risk of drowning" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
India Amyot, Jonathan Fortin and Magaly Maltais, Pointes-aux-Outardes
On August 15, 2011, India Amyot and Magaly Maltais, both 12 years old, and Jonathan Fortin, 13 , were enjoying an afternoon at the beach at Pointe-aux-Outardes. Facing them, in the middle of the river, was Île Bilodeau, a popular destination at low tide when swimming across was easy.
The three young people could see a couple setting out from the island to swim back to the beach. As the tide was rising rapidly, they shouted out to ask if everything was all right. Both the man and the woman responded positively. But barely two minutes later, they found themselves in difficulty and cried out for help. The couple were roughly 50 metres from the beach in water 3 metres deep.
India and Jonathan were both strong swimmers and leapt into the water to reach the couple, who disappeared under the surface several times. India tried to help the woman, who was becoming agitated, but found it difficult. Jonathan swam over to help her, while supporting the man. The two young people quickly realized that they would have trouble getting the couple back to the beach.
India asked Magaly, who had stayed on the beach to go for help. She ran as far as the road, shouted out and rang some doorbells. Hearing her, Réal Castonguay grabbed two like jackets and followed her to the beach. He quickly swam the 50 metres to the group and handed the woman and the man a life jacket. Then, with assistance from India and Jonathan, he helped the two victims return safe and sound to the beach.
The three young people reacted calmly to the urgency of the situation, showing a great deal of maturity.
Marjorie Caron, Taschereau
In the late afternoon of August 20, 2011, Marjorie Caron was driving on Rue Privat in Taschereau. As she went past the municipal wharf, she saw a young girl, Jessica Dupuis, calling for help at the roadside. She stopped and asked what the problem was. The girl’s cousin, Sarah Côté, was drowning in the lake.
Ms. Caron ran to the end of the wharf with Jessica. From there she could clearly see Sarah about 20 metres away as she sank into the water and then bobbed back up to the surface.
There were two other people on the wharf, but neither knew how to swim. Ms. Caron asked them to call for help and to get the local nurse, who was in a nearby café.
Ms. Caron removed her shoes, jumped into the lake and swam towards Sarah. She told her to keep calm, to stop fighting the water, and to trust her because she was there to help. The young girl caught hold of her with her legs and put her arms around Marjorie Caron’s neck, and she was able to pull her to the wharf.
Back at the wharf, the nurse checked the girl’s condition. She was taken to hospital as a precaution, but was quickly released.
Marjorie Caron never suspected that she would be called upon to save someone’s life on that afternoon in August 2011—but she did so with great determination.
Stéphane Saucier, Varennes
On the evening of May 16, 2011, Stéphane Saucier was at the Boucherville marina, where he worked on boat maintenance. A client, Guy Hébert, told him he was having problems with the accelerator of his recreational vehicle, which had been stored for the last few months. Mr. Saucier suggested that he warm up the engine by taking a short ride, and as Mr. Hébert left he went back to his work on the boats.
When Guy Hébert reached Rue Marie-Victorin, he was hit by a driver who had caused an accident and was fleeing the scene; he lost control of his vehicle, which ran back down the slope towards the marina’s slipway and ended up in the river. There was a strong current and the water temperature was barely 12 oC.
Stéphane Saucier immediately ran towards the river, dived in and swam ten metres to reach the recreational vehicle, which had already begun to drift. He helped Mr. Hébert open the vehicle’s door, dragged him out and swam with him back to shore. Both men then went to the marina office to warm up while waiting for the emergency services. The 77-year-old victim was taken to hospital, but Mr. Saucier did not feel the need to go himself.
Stéphane Saucier plunged without hesitation into the river to save Guy Hébert, who without a doubt owes his life to the courage and daring shown by Mr. Saucier on that evening in May 2011.
Alain Simard, Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu
On January 14, 2011, in the afternoon, Alain Simard was at home in Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu, when his mother told him that somebody was in trouble on the ice on the Richelieu river beside the house. Mr. Simard asked her to call the emergency services, and then went down to the garage, put on a winter suit and selected a long, strong piece of rope. He walked along the riverbank for about 100 metres, to where he could see the victim about 30 metres from shore.
The man on the ice sank into the water several times, but managed to get back to the surface. Mr. Simard moved forward carefully, knowing that the ice was strong enough to take his weight over the first 15 metres. Then, while still 15 metres from the victim, he threw the rope, but missed his target.
Mr. Simard threw the rope a second time, aiming closer to the victim. This time, the man managed to catch hold of the rope, and Alain Simard pulled him with all his strength onto the ice, where he helped him sit. The victim, soaked through and still wearing skates, was too heavy to be able to stand safely on the ice. With the help of the police officers and firefighters who had arrived in the meantime, Mr. Simard took him back to his house before going to hospital. The man was released from hospital in the evening.
Alain Simard demonstrated common sense, prudence and bravery in his winter rescue on the ice of the Rivière Richelieu.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Oliver Bleuer, Montréal
On May 7, 2011, late in the afternoon, Oliver Bleuer was out walking his dog on Rue Rielle in Verdun when he spotted three young men apparently harassing and shouting abuse at a young woman. They surrounded her in a threatening way.
Mr. Bleuer immediately went up to the aggressors and ordered them to leave the young woman alone. The three young men were initially surprised and stepped back, giving the victim an opportunity to flee. The three aggressors then ran off in another direction.
Believing the incident to be over and glad that his actions had led to a positive outcome, Oliver Bleuer continued on his way with his dog. When he arrived at the intersection with Rue Wellington, he saw the young men again, this time accompanied by others. The group immediately jumped on him, threw him to the ground, sprayed him with aerosol and hit him using, among other objects, a baseball bat and a bottle, to punish him for intervening in their dispute with the young woman. Oliver Bleuer lost consciousness and revived only in the ambulance that was taking him to hospital.
Mr. Bleuer spent several days in hospital and still suffers from his injuries. But what would have happed on that day in May 2011 had he not intervened with such courage?
Guy Liboiron, Laval
On February 16, 2011, a patient was admitted to the transitional hospitalization unit at Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur in Montréal, where Guy Liboiron worked. The patient was placed on a stretcher and, several times during the evening, became agitated and had to be brought under control. In the end he was restrained to ensure his own safety and that of the other patients.
The next day, when Guy Liboiron started his work shift, he noticed that the patient was still there, dressed normally. He was no longer restrained and appeared calm. However, as the evening progressed he became increasingly agitated and incoherent. Twice, he attempted to escape; each time, Mr. Liboiron and his colleagues managed to catch him before he reached the door, which was about twenty metres from his stretcher.
Around 8:30 p.m., the patient attempted to escape for the third time. Now even more agitated, he brandished an object in his right hand and used it to threaten patients and staff. At first, they thought the object was a flashlight.
The patient pointed the object directly at Mr. Liboiron when he came closer. Feeling threatened, Mr. Liboiron seized the patient’s right arm and raised it towards the ceiling; at the same time, a shot rang out. He was able to restrain the patient and asked for security to be called.
It is frightening to imagine what would have happened if Guy Liboiron had not had the presence of mind to act so swiftly.