2003 Award Recipients (for actions in 2002)
On November 17, 2003, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 23 persons in recognition of their acts of good citizenship in 2002. The Tribute to Good Citizenship ceremony was held in the Legislative Council Chamber of the main Parliament Building, presided over by the Minister of Relations avec les citoyens et de l'Immigration, Michelle Courchesne, who awarded 7 medals and 16 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 20th 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 "drowning risks" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Paul Miron Jr., Shawville (Outaouais) and Stephen Turcotte (posthumously), Quyon (Outaouais)
On August 18, 2002, Stephen Turcotte, his daughter, his son and a friend, Paul Miron Jr., were standing by the rivière des Outaouais in Quyon. Suddenly the young girl decided to go into the water and was dragged away by the current. Paul immediately dived into the river and swam to the girl 15 metres away. At the same time, Mr. Turcotte jumped into the water to save his daughter but did not re-emerge. Mr. Turcotte's six-year-old son quickly went to get help. Paul reached the girl and caught her but was dragged underwater several times because of her struggling. When he finally reached the riverbank with her, she was unconscious. Her death was confirmed later in the evening. Mr. Turcotte's body was found the next day.
In the "accidents" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Josée-Anne D'Auray (posthumously), Saint-Léonard (Montréal)
On January 12, 2002, at around 5 p.m., freezing rain was falling and Route 417 was very icy. Josée-Anne D'Auray was driving toward Montréal when she saw the car ahead of her veer off the road. Out of control, it spun around several times and plunged into the ditch. Ms. D'Auray stopped her car on the shoulder of the road so that she could go help the accident victims. She called 911, got out of her car and went to the car in the ditch. She was struck by another car that slid out of control due to the icy road conditions. Her death was confirmed shortly afterward.
Dominique Dufour, Chicoutimi-Nord (Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean) and Jérémie Dufour, Sacré-Coeur (Côte-Nord)
On October 23, 2002, at around 6 p.m., Jérémie and Dominique Dufour were travelling on Route 138 west of lac Long in Sacré-Coeur, when they came upon an accident. A tanker truck loaded with hot tar (300 oC) had overturned and there were one-metre-high flames shooting up from the motor. The two men agreed to help the driver who was stuck in the cab. In order to do so, they had to walk over the power lines that had fallen on the roadway after the accident, and cross pools of burning tar. They were unable to find the truck's fire extinguisher and the flames were now five metres high. The heat was so intense and threatening that they decided to get out of the truck before it exploded. As he was leaving the cab, Jérémie slipped and fell into the burning tar. Dominique helped him get up and the two men ran into the lake to ease the pain caused by their burns. The truck then exploded and the driver burned to death. The two men were taken to hospital.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Mathieu Jean and Jean Ricard, Lac-à-la-Tortue (Mauricie)
On November 17, 2002, a snow storm was raging and the temperature was -17 °C. At 6 p.m., the storm worsened. Sébastien Jean had gone hunting at around 1:30 p.m. and had not returned. His brother Mathieu and Jean Ricard decided to search for him in an all-terrain vehicle. The forest was so thick that, in order to keep going, they had to leave their vehicle and continue on foot through marshland. They walked, calling out Sébastien's name and firing their rifle in the air every 15 minutes. Walking was very difficult and several times, they had to use a search technique whereby Mathieu would stop and Mr. Ricard would walk in a radius of 150 metres around him. Once he had gone full circle, Mr. Ricard would shout in Mathieu's direction to have him walk toward him. Progress was extremely slow in gruelling conditions and they sank to their waists into water holes. Wet and freezing and afraid of losing their way, they were often tempted to turn back. After two hours of walking, Sébastien finally answered their rifle shot. It took them another 30 minutes to find him and two hours to get back to the ATT using the circling technique. They arrived home at around 11:30 p.m. and Sébastien was taken to hospital.
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 "drowning risks" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Julie Bélanger, Charlesbourg (Capitale-Nationale), Josée Boulay, Denis Chabot and Rolland Hallé, Lac-Saint-Charles (Capitale-Nationale)
On November 27, 2002, at around 1:30 p.m., a passer-by noticed a woman and a child who had fallen into lac Saint-Charles, about six metres from the shore, where the water is four metres deep. The passer-by called for help. Josée Boulay, Julie Bélanger, Rolland Hallé and Denis Chabot, who were not far away, ran to the scene. Holding hands, they formed a chain to get closer to the victims. Mr. Chabot knelt down on the thin ice and tried to reach the woman, but he was still too far away. He then used the coats they were wearing to make a rope, but that did not work. A fifth person arrived and gave Mr. Chabot a blanket. They were finally able to pull the woman out of the water. With the help of the rescuers, they also pulled the child out of the water. The two victims were quickly taken to hospital.
Daniel Benny and Lionel Simon, Saint-Jean-de-Matha (Lanaudière)
On May 31, 2002, at around 7 p.m., Daniel Benny was standing on the shore of lac Mondor, at Saint-Jean-de-Matha, when he saw a car fall into the lake. The car floated and continued to move forward; Mr. Benny jumped into the water and tried to reach the vehicle but had to turn back because he was afraid he could not swim the entire distance to the car. Lionel Simon, a lakeshore resident, tried to swim to the car, but turned back because the water was icy cold. Mr. Benny then jumped into a rowboat. Since there were no oars, Mr. Simon went back into the water to push the rowboat. When the two men finally reached the car 15 metres from the shore, they noticed that the victim was still conscious. They asked her to open the window. The water rushed into the car, causing it to sink. Just as the car disappeared, the two rescuers saw the woman's hands near the surface of the water. Mr. Simon quickly grabbed her and pulled her toward them. Because they could not pull her into the boat, Mr. Benny held her while Mr. Simon continued to swim and pushed the boat to the edge of the water. Shortly afterwards, help arrived and took charge of the victim.
Ruqing Chen, Montréal (Montréal)
On March 9, 2002, Ruqing Chen was on rue Dupuis in Verdun, when a young boy called out to him saying that a young girl had fallen into the aqueduct canal. Mr. Chen ran some 225 metres, climbed a fence and approached the ice-covered canal. He then saw the young girl in a hole three metres in diameter, about ten metres from the shore. She was conscious, but in a state of panic. Mr. Chen went toward her, first on his hands and knees, then crawling on his stomach. The ice was so thin in spots that it cracked and water seeped onto it. On reaching the girl, he took hold of her and pulled her out of the hole. He slowly crawled back to shore holding her with one arm. She was quickly taken to hospital, suffering from hypothermia.
Martin Larivière, Saint-Roch-de-Richelieu (Montérégie)
On June 3, 2002, at around 5 p.m., Martin Larivière was travelling on a ferry to Saint-Roch-de-Richelieu when he noticed two young girls in the rivière Richelieu. He grabbed two life preservers and threw them to the girls. One of them was able to catch the life preserver and swim ashore. The other girl was unable to catch the second one and was dragged away by the strong current in the middle of the river. Mr. Larivière jumped into the water, took the life preserver and tried to reach the girl who was now floating toward the channel. She sank underwater and resurfaced several times. Mr. Larivière was finally able to reach her. She was still conscious and was now 50 metres from the shore. He lifted her onto the life preserver and pulled her to safety. Exhausted, he had to ask for help to climb out of the water.
Ginette Morin, Sacré-Coeur (Côte-Nord)
On October 15, 2002, at around 11:45 a.m. at a Baie-Sainte-Catherine outfitting facility, Ginette Morin and her spouse were sitting in a rowboat on lac Malbaie. Suddenly, the wind picked up and huge waves overturned the boat. The couple found themselves in the water in the middle of the lake. Though she was wearing a life jacket, Ms. Morin swallowed a lot of water but managed to get to shore. She noticed that her spouse who was not far away was in trouble. He drifted for about twenty minutes, holding on to a piece of wood; he was hypothermic. Ms. Morin brought him back to the lakeshore and carried him on her back to their all-terrain vehicle. However, her troubles were not over because the road leading to their cottage ten kilometres away was very bumpy. Despite the frostbite to her hands, Ms. Morin had to hold on to her spouse because he lost consciousness several times. When she finally got to their cottage, she had to transfer him to their truck and drive to the ferry that would take him to the other shore where the ambulance was waiting.
Peter Wazlawek, Longueuil (Montérégie)
On July 4, 2002, at around 8:30 p.m., Peter Wazlawek was at lac Bonhomme in Val-Bélair and was very worried. His nephew who had gone swimming was not answering his call. Mr. Wazlawek went to look for him in a canoe. Suddenly, he saw his nephew resurface then sink underwater again. The young man was unconscious. Mr. Wazlawek quickly dived into the water, caught him and brought him back up to the surface. He decided to swim to shore with his nephew on his back. He swam 160 metres until a relative arrived in another canoe. The two men tried to pull the victim into the canoe, but it overturned. They managed to reach shore 15 metres away and the young man was taken to hospital.
In the "accidents" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Catherine Bergeron, Jonquière (Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean)
On April 1, 2002, at around 3 p.m., in Chicoutimi, a driver lost control of his vehicle and fell 45 metres into rivière Langevin, which was covered in ice. The car overturned and the driver was trapped by his seat belt. The passenger managed to undo his seat belt and pull himself up onto the car. At that moment, Catherine Bergeron arrived on the scene. She went down onto the ice and crouching, tried to get close to the driver. The ice broke and she fell into the water. She managed to climb out and turned back. She then threw her dog's leash to the driver who caught it, but could not get out of the car. Ms. Bergeron again tried to reach the car. She tried to undo the driver's seat belt, but could not. When she went back to shore, a man threw her a knife. She returned to the car, gave the passenger the knife, who then managed to cut the driver's seat belt. The victims were driven to hospital, Ms. Bergeron suffering from shock.
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Karl Blackburn and Robert Desgagné, Roberval (Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean)
On March 23, 2002, at around 9 a.m., Robert Desgagné learned that his place of employment, the Ursulines convent in Roberval, was on fire. He quickly drove to the convent; Karl Blackburn decided to follow him when he saw him go by, thinking there had to be something wrong. Entering the convent, Mr. Desgagné saw that the fire was too widespread for him to extinguish it. He then asked the nuns to leave the building. He and Mr. Blackburn went up to the second and third floors where they found several persons that they helped downstairs by carrying them in their arms or on their backs. Mr. Desgagné then tried to go to a resident's room which was close to the source of the fire. The flames had completely engulfed the area and he proceeded by crawling to the victim's room. The smoke was very thick and the flames were licking the ceiling. He called the woman several times, but got no answer. There was nothing more he could do, so he crouched down, took a deep breath and turned back. Two persons died in the fire and Mr. Desgagné suffered burns to his hands.
Robert Dorion, Dorval (Montréal)
In Pointe-Claire, at around 1 p.m. on November 30, 2002, Robert Dorion noticed a house on fire. He could see flames at the rear of the home and that the front was filled with smoke. Mr. Dorion ran toward the house and shouted and knocked on the door. Suddenly, he saw the silhouette of an elderly woman through the smoke, behind the window of the front door, which was locked. He asked the woman to open the door, but she did not answer. Mr. Dorion tried to find something to smash the window open. He tried twice with his fist, but the glass would not break. He tried with both fists and succeeded at last. Thick black smoke billowed from the broken window, choking Mr. Dorion. He removed the pieces of glass still stuck in the window frame, cutting his hands. He bent inside and carefully pulled the still conscious victim out of the house. The dwelling was a total loss.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Benoît Berger, Sorel-Tracy (Montérégie)
On August 18, 2002, at around 9 p.m., Benoît Berger came out of a convenience store in Sorel-Tracy and got into his car. Looking back, he noticed a young man threatening the cashier with a metal bar. Mr. Berger went back into the store, walked behind the counter, grabbed the thief and hit him in the face. Taken aback, the thief loosened his grip on the metal bar and the cashier managed to make him drop it. The two men continued to wrestle and ended up on the floor. Mr. Berger was able to restrain the thief by pinning his arm behind his back until the police arrived.
Mikel Moudarres, Saint-Laurent (Montréal)
On May 31, 2002, at around 10:30 p.m., Mikel Moudarres was driving along Parc avenue in Montréal. Stopping at a red light, he noticed two men fighting on the sidewalk; one of them was holding a knife. Suddenly, the other man ran around the car and hid on the driver's side as the assailant stayed on the passenger side. Mr. Moudarres got out of his car and approached the assailant who threatened him with the knife. Mr. Moudarres asked him to put it away. The assailant, who was plainly drunk, continued to make threats. Mr. Moudarres insisted. The assailant did give up and put the knife away in his pocket. At that moment, the other man got closer and started to taunt him. The assailant took the knife out and started to make threats again. Mr. Moudarres again asked him to put the knife away and was able to keep the man in check until the police arrived.