2019 Award Recipients (for actions in 2017)
On February 4, 2019, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 8 persons in recognition of their acts of good citizenship in 2017. The Tribute to Good Citizenship ceremony was held at the Legislative Council Chamber in the main Parliament Building, presided over by the Minister of Justice, Sonia LeBel, who awarded 6 medals and 2 honourable citations.
The recipients were also given a lapel pin, which is a miniature replica of the medal.
The acts of good citizenship recognized at the 33rd annual Tribute to Good Citizenship award ceremony have been grouped by region.
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.
Frédéric regularly completed his morning jog on the promenade along the Saint‑Maurice river, not far from home. It was April 8, 2017, and the weather was cold. As usual in early spring, the river was filled with large blocks of ice and the water level was high. The current was also strong in the sector, located not far from a hydroelectric dam.
Around 9:45 a.m., Frédéric heard cries for help. Suspecting that they came from the river, he ran to the railing at the edge of the promenade to look out over the water.
He caught sight of an overturned canoe about 10 metres from the riverbank. As he shifted his gaze to the right, he saw a man clinging desperately to a block of ice.
The man was in difficulty, in the frozen water up to his chest. He appeared to be exhausted and only his lifejacket allowed him to keep his head above water.
Without hesitating, Frédéric climbed over the railing and ran to the riverbank, marked by a low concrete wall. He crossed this and climbed down to the frozen river, before running over the ice to where the man was hanging on. Under the combined weight of the two men, the ice gradually began to crack again.
Frédéric stretched out on the ice to spread his weight, before crawling over to the canoeist. As the adrenaline kicked in, he grabbed the man's hands and pulled him from the water in single movement. This was no small task: the man was heavy, and his clothes were soaked through.
Frédéric brought the man back to dry land and quickly ran to seek help at a house near the promenade. The canoeist, despite being frozen, found enough strength to follow him to the house to warm up and avoid hypothermia.
A few minutes later, an ambulance arrived on the scene and the paramedics took charge of the situation.
Without Frédéric's daring and courageous action, the canoeist would have been trapped. Frédéric saved his life.
Patrick Beaulieu and Robert Masson
On the evening before Saint-Jean Baptiste day, Robert was busy in his shed in Saint-Apollinaire. At about 3 p.m., he suddenly heard a loud boom reverberating through the quiet surroundings.
Thinking at first that a car had hit an animal, Robert went towards the road, but could see nothing. He then went towards Lac des Sources, which faced his house.
In the lake he spotted a car sinking slowly into the water. Its motor was still running and its wheels were still turning, moving the vehicle slowly to the right.
Robert was frightened to see that a man was slumped against the steering wheel, and he tried to attract his attention, whistling and shouting. In vain—the man was unconscious.
Immediately, Robert went back home, called the emergency services and also his neighbour Patrick. He kept his calls short and rushed to help the man.
The car was still sinking. Since the water was 9 metres deep, it would soon be completely submerged. It was also moving away from the shore, and was now at a distance of 18 metres.
Without taking the time to remove his clothes, Robert grabbed an axe and entered the water, where he swam over to the car, which was getting even lower in the water.
Robert tried to open the doors one by one, but they were locked. He then used his axe to break the window on the driver's side.
The man was still unconscious, and in the water up to his waist. The water was cloudy and Robert had trouble detaching the safety belt. He made several attempts, as water continued to seep into the car.
At this point, Robert was left with no options. He caught sight of Patrick on the shore, and called for help. Patrick immediately jumped into the lake and swam 18 metres to reach the car.
Once he reached the car, Patrick dived under water and was able to detach the seatbelt. He then grabbed hold of the man's lifeless body and dragged him to the surface by the collar.
The two rescuers were out of their depth, and beginning to tire. However, they were able to move the driver onto his back and drag him to the riverbank.
Thanks to their risky and dangerous actions, the two men were able to save another man's life.
On January 29, 2017, at 7:45 p.m., Aymen went to the Grand Mosque in Québec City, for Salah, or prayer. Because he was a little late, he found a place at a distance from his friends.
A few minutes after prayer began, the worshippers heard shots that appeared to come from outside. Suddenly, a heavily-armed individual burst into the mosque and opened fire in all directions.
Panicking and terrified, the worshippers fled to the back of the room. Several took shelter in the mihrab, a niche in the wall of the prayer room.
The assailant was heading towards the mihrab and Aymen, when he saw this, reacted instantly, tackling the assailant in an attempt to disarm him.
At this point Aymen was hit in the left leg. Despite the pain, he tried to attract the assailant's attention again to stop him firing on the other members of the religious community.
Aymen placed himself between the armed man and the mihrab on two occasions but, after being hit seven times in a few seconds, he fell to the floor. He lost consciousness a few minutes later, and those present were unable to revive him.
Following the tragedy, Aymen spent two months in a coma, another two months in intensive care, and one and a half months in trauma care. He was only able to return home on a permanent basis on August 3, 2018. However, he was still disabled.
Six people lost their lives in the tragedy. Without Aymen's heroic actions, it could have been even worse.
Today, we commend Aymen for his bravery and courage.
Azzedine Soufiane (posthumously)
The mass shooting at the Grand Mosque in Québec City on January 29, 2017 left several families in mourning, including the family of the late Azzedine Soufiane.
For those who did not know him, Azzedine, 57 years old, was married and the proud father of three children. He was a shopkeeper, respected by his whole community, and by many other people as well! His customers all appreciated his smiling good humour, and the pleasure he took in serving them.
On the Sunday concerned, Azzedine went home after closing his shop. He wanted to spend a few moments with his family before going to the mosque for the evening prayer.
As the time for Salah approached, Azzedine went to the mosque. However, he arrived a few minutes after prayers had begun, and he suddenly heard shots that appeared to come from outside.
A few moments later, a heavily-armed assailant entered the mosque and opened fire in all directions. The frightened worshippers ran to the front of the room, where the mihrab was located, and Azzedine sought safety with them.
Next, he saw his friend Aymen Derbali place himself between them and the assailant. However, Aymen quickly dropped to the floor after being hit by seven bullets.
Azzedine immediately asked the other worshippers to help him overpower the assailant while he reloaded his gun, but nobody found the strength to follow him.
Azzedine rushed bravely at the assailant and held him by the collar for a few seconds.
Unfortunately, the assailant was strong, and he managed to free himself quickly and shoot Azzedine at point-blank range. Azzedine died from his wounds.
Although this awards ceremony brings back painful memories, it is important to highlight Azzedine's actions, which exemplify his heroism and deep love for his fellow human beings. He did everything he could to help his friends, and his bravery testifies to the goodness for which he was known.
At about 2:30 p.m. on August 19, 2017, Noureddine was driving south on Highway 25 with his wife and daughter, on the way home. After exiting the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel, he saw a car parked on the shoulder. It was filled with smoke, but a silhouette inside seemed to indicate a human presence.
Without hesitating, Noureddine stopped his car at the side of the road and, leaving his wife and daughter safely inside, ran to where the other car was parked.
A man was, in fact, sitting motionless in the driver's seat. The car was filled with thick, multi-coloured smoke. Noureddine banged on the car from the outside to try to wake the man, but in vain. At this point he noticed the heat coming from the car, and realized that he needed to act quickly.
He shouted to his wife to call for help and then, drawing on all his courage, opened the door on the driver's side. He saw that the elderly driver was not wearing a seatbelt.
Noureddine checked the man's pulse, which was weak. Next, he grabbed the man's arm and pulled with all his strength to move him from the car. However, the driver's legs and feet were trapped underneath the pedals.
Nourredine noticed that another car had stopped nearby to observe the scene, and he shouted to the driver to help him rescue the man.
They had to work quickly! Flames had appeared beneath the car. With the help of the other driver, Nourredine was able to pull the unconscious man from his vehicle and place him on the road surface at a safe distance. Although his assistant left the scene shortly after, Noureddine stayed at the victim's side until the emergency services arrived.
Thanks to his quick thinking, Nourredine was able to save the life of a fellow driver.
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.
Jake Gravelle and Derek McColgan
On June 9, 2017, Jake and Derek were driving to their camp for moose hunting and fishing. Suddenly, they saw a Jeep Cherokee heading straight for their truck. To avoid a collision Derek swerved to the left, but to no effect: a few seconds later the Jeep hit their vehicle head-on at about 70 km/h.
The shock of the impact dislodged some of the propane tanks both vehicles were carrying, and this probably caused a gas leak. In a few seconds the gas caught fire, creating a cloud of smoke as the flames spread to both vehicles.
Jake and Derek were able to exit their truck immediately, and went to help the occupants of the Jeep, who they could see were still inside.
As they got closer to the sports utility vehicle, they could hear the driver calling for help: he was trapped inside. Jake immediately reached in through the shattered window on the driver's side, and in a few moments was able to drag the man from the burning car. Derek helped him, and they carried the man to a safe distance.
The driver begged them to go back to rescue his father, who was in the Jeep's passenger seat, but it was too late because the car was now a blazing wreck.
Jake noticed that his all-terrain vehicle had been thrown off the truck by the force of the collision. Since they could not contact the emergency services from their location and because Derek had seriously injured his leg, Jake left on his ATV to get help, even though he had broken a finger and burned his hand in the accident.
He travelled several kilometres before he was able to flag down a car. He explained the situation to the occupants, who were able to call for help. In the meantime, Derek had stayed with the driver of the Jeep, trying to keep him in a stable condition. It took the emergency services over three hours to reach them.
Jake recovered from his injuries quickly, while Derek needed several months before he could return to his previous occupations and start work again.
Despite sustaining their own injuries in the collision, Jake and Derek had the strength and courage needed to help others, and were able to save one person's life.