2008 Award Recipients (for actions in 2006)
On November 3, 2008, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 25 persons in recognition of their acts of good citizenship in 2006. 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, M. Jacques P. Dupuis, who awarded 16 medals and 9 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 23th 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:
Geneviève Bergeron-Collin, Verdun
During the evening of October 19, 2006, Geneviève Bergeron-Collin was out walking her dog in Verdun on a trail along the fleuve Saint-Laurent. A man told her that he had seen someone in the river. Ms. Bergeron-Collin tied her dog to a post and walked out along the quay. Forty metres away, a body was floating face down in the water.
Immediately, Ms. Bergeron-Collin took off her coat, sweater and shoes, dived into the cold water and swam out to the victim, an unconscious woman. Ms. Bergeron-Collin grabbed her by the shoulders and towed her 25 metres to the shore, kicking only with her legs as she tried to keep the victim’s head out of the water. Another woman helped her lift the victim from the water and, placing her on the ground, they noted with relief that she was still breathing. The rescue services soon arrived.
Without the bravery of Geneviève Bergeron-Collin, the victim’s life would have been lost.
Réjean Gignac (posthumously), Québec
On December 24, 2006, in Saint-Alban-de-Portneuf, Réjean Gignac, his wife Francine, his 21-year-old daughter Stéphanie and a friend were walking on a steep path overlooking the rivière Sainte-Anne. Stéphanie lost her footing and disappeared over the cliff edge. She fell into the river, but managed to cling to a block of ice. Her father Réjean, despite not being able to swim, jumped in to save her. In the icy water, he lost consciousness and was swept away by the current.
Stéphanie, still clinging to the ice, felt her strength waning and called for help. She was cold and could no longer feel her legs. A young man arrived on the scene and threw her a rope. After a few attempts, Stéphanie managed to catch the rope but was so cold that she was unable to tie it around her body. After twenty minutes, no longer able to hang on, Stéphanie let go and disappeared into the river.
Noureddine Touati, Saint-Léonard
On April 16, 2006, Noureddine Touati was in a car with a friend in Laval. A man gestured to them: he had just seen a woman in rivière des Prairies. Mr. Touati ran down to the river while his friend called for help. In the water, the victim disappeared and then resurfaced several times as she was quickly carried away by the current. Mr. Touati undressed and jumped into the cold water; fighting against the strong current, he swam for ten minutes before reaching the woman. Since she was unconscious, he turned her on her back, took hold of her hand and began the return journey, swimming with a single hand. The trip was difficult and dangerous because Mr. Touati, besides swallowing a lot of water, had to fight against the current all the way.
After 20 minutes, he and the victim were back on the riverbank. Without the bravery and determination of Noureddine Touati, the woman would have disappeared beneath the waves.
Éric Turgeon, Lévis
On June 1, 2006, on the shore of the fleuve Saint-Laurent at Lévis, Éric Turgeon heard someone shouting. Fifty metres away, a boat had just capsized, and two men were clinging to the hull. Mr. Turgeon jumped into the water, followed by a woman who had offered her help. Mr. Turgeon arrived first at the boat, and used an oar to tow one of the victims away, but his fellow rescuer had difficulty trying to save the other victim. Locked together, they started to sink. Only the woman emerged and, exhausted, she swam to shore.
As soon as the first victim was safe, Mr. Turgeon returned for his companion, who had disappeared three minutes previously. He found the man unconscious underwater, brought him to the surface and towed him to shore. He gave the man artificial respiration but was unable to revive him. The two victims were taken to hospital, where the death of the second man was recorded.
Thanks to his fearless actions, Éric Turgeon was able to save a life.
In the "accidents" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Yvon Doyon, Saint-Jules
On May 22, 2006, Yvon Doyon was with his brother-in-law in his truck, going up a hill in Saint-Frédéric. They barely had time to see a car racing toward them when they were hit in a head-on collision.
The force of the impact threw the truck onto its roof. Mr. Doyon’s brother-in-law was killed instantly. As soon as he recovered consciousness, Mr. Doyon climbed over the body and crawled out through the driver’s door. In the car, he found two boys, apparently injured. A fire broke out, and Mr. Doyon tried to extinguish it, but only fanned the flames. He then began to move the boys out, one by one, through the rear doors. After placing them in safety, he left to get help.
One of the boys died from his injuries. Yvon Doyon was badly shaken, but his bravery saved another person’s life.
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Khaira Akif, Montréal
During the night of September 7, 2006, in Montréal, Khaira Akif was sleeping with her children Majda, 11, and Sami, 7. She was woken up by the smell of smoke, and realized that a fire was raging in the corridor.
She immediately went into another bedroom and opened the window. As the fire progressed along the corridor, she went back to wake Majda, took her to the bedroom with the open window, and threw her down to the ground from the second floor. The fire had engulfed the corridor, but Ms. Akif crossed through a wall of flame, without hesitating, to fetch Sami. She wrapped him up tightly protect him from the flames, even though her own clothes were on fire. After throwing her son from the window, she jumped herself. Neighbours, responding to the alarm, surrounded her and smothered the flames on her clothes. When she was sure that her children were alive and well, she fainted.
The incident lasted only three minutes, but it left Khaira Akif severely burned and in pain. Thanks to her heroic and selfless action, her family survived.
Jean Brière and Carole Lévesque, Sainte-Christine-d'Auvergne
During the evening of December 3, 2006, while driving through Portneuf, Jean Brière and Carole Lévesque saw flames coming from a residence for the mobility-impaired. The couple acted immediately.
Mr. Brière entered the smoke-filled living room, where a group of panic-stricken people were gathered. An elderly man was lying on the floor. Mr. Brière picked him up and took him outside to his car. Ms. Lévesque went up to the first floor, already on fire and filled with smoke. She shouted to warn the people who were still there, when a door opened and a frightened man appeared. Ms. Lévesque rushed through the smoke, grabbed the man and helped him down the stairs. She went back up to help other residents, but she fire had intensified and she was beaten back by the flames. Ms. Lévesque and Mr. Brière helped the victims out as far as the car park, and Mr. Brière re-entered the ground floor, as the fire moved down the staircase and the windows started to shatter. He broke down all the doors. Finding nobody, he went to wait for help with Ms. Lévesque outside the building.
By their generous and fearless actions, Jean Brière and Carole Lévesque certainly saved several lives.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Lydia Angiyou, Ivujuvik
On February 8, 2006, Lydia Angiyou was out walking in Ivujivik, Nunavik, followed by her young son and two other children. A giant polar bear suddenly appeared close to her son. Ms. Angiyou ran toward the animal, shouting, while the children ran back to the village. The polar bear attempted to follow them, and at the risk of her life, Ms. Angiyou stood in its way. The furious animal attacked, clawing her in the face. Ms. Angiyou fell to the ground and kicked the bear in the muzzle with all her strength before losing consciousness.
When she recovered consciousness, the polar bear was licking her face and holding her between its paws. A hunter, alerted by the children, arrived from the village. After firing several warning shots with no result, he shot the bear dead.
Lydia Angiyou’s injuries were not serious, but she placed her own life in danger to save the lives of the children.
Yves and Kevin Lalande, Sept-Îles
On September 5, 2006, in Sept-Îles, Yves Lalande, his wife and his son Kevin were getting ready for supper when they heard screams from the floor below. Mr. Lalande and his wife rushed down to the apartment of Isabelle France. The door was open, and they saw a giant man strangling Ms. France, who was bleeding.
Kevin arrived and edged behind the aggressor. He punched him repeatedly, but the aggressor pushed him away. His father than took a fire extinguisher and hit the intruder until he let go of Ms. France, who was able to flee. The aggressor followed, escaping through a window, but was caught a short distance away by the police.
Although Kevin recovered from the incident, Yves Lalande was badly affected and had to stop work. However, the bravery of the father and son saved a woman from a horrible fate.
Gabriel Lamarre-Langlois, Verdun
During the afternoon of October 5, 2006, in Lachine, Gabriel Lamarre-Langlois heard cries for help while in his mother-in-law’s apartment. He went out on to the balcony and saw Jason Green, the son of a tenant on the ground floor, attacking his mother on their balcony. He rushed down to the scene, shouting at the attacker to leave his victim. The balcony was covered in blood. As Mr. Green stabbed his mother, Mr. Lamarre-Langlois called 911, despite threats from Mr. Green.
Armed with a parasol, Mr. Lamarre-Langlois tried to fend off the aggressor, but the situation deteriorated when Mr. Green tried to slash his mother’s throat. At this point, a neighbour threw a baseball bat to Mr. Lamarre-Langlois, who was able to gain the upper hand until the police arrived.
By his courage and tenacity, Gabriel Lamarre-Langlois was able to prevent a murder.
Dennis and Gian Millette, Surrey (British Columbia)
During the evening of June 24, 2006, in a house in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, a man attacked his parents-in-law with a knife. The father-in-law was slightly injured but managed to escape from the house.
Gian Millette and his father Dennis, who lived in the neighbouring house, heard shouts and, as they were going to check, met the father-in-law coming in their direction. Once they realized what was going on, they rushed into the house. In the kitchen, the son-in-law was attacking his mother-in-law with a butcher’s knife, and there was blood everywhere. Gian jumped on the man and snatched the knife away, while his father gave first aid to the woman, who was bleeding profusely. When the police and ambulance crew arrived, the perpetrator gave himself up quietly, and the mother-in-law was taken to hospital.
There is no doubt that Dennis and Gian Milllette rescued the woman from a dangerous situation.
Yves Morin, Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot
On September 13, 2006, Yves Morin, a woodworker at Dawson College in Montreal, heard shots. He went to the atrium to investigate. As he met students coming in his direction, he showed them a safe way out. When he saw the gunman at the end of the atrium, he turned back to shelter in the print shop.
As he was about to close the door, he saw a young woman running toward the atrium. He ran after her, shouting at her to stop, but the student did not hear his warning. She arrived in the atrium face to face with the gunman. Mr. Morin just had time to throw her to the ground when he was hit by a bullet in the shoulder.
Yves Morin still suffers from the sequels of the incident, but knows that the bullet would have hit the student if it had not hit him. And maybe she would not have been as lucky.
Vincent Pascale, Longueuil
On September 13, 2006, a little after 12 noon, Vincent Pascale, the head of security at Dawson College in Montréal, was in his office when some terrified students came to warn him that shots had been fired in the atrium. He hurried to the scene. About thirty students were hiding under tables. To reach them, he crawled over a distance of 20 feet, while the gunman fired several times. After locating the gunman, Mr. Pascale asked the students to crawl toward him and then led them to safety.
Returning to the atrium, Mr. Pascale saw two other students close to the gunman. Assessing the danger, he told them not to move. At this moment, a police officer tried to enter by breaking a window. Mr. Pascale gestured to him to stop, to avoid alarming the gunman, who had now taken the two students hostage. A police officer on the third floor fired at him, and the killer fell to the ground, wounded, and then shot himself. Mr. Pascale went over to his body to make sure that the situation was under control. He remained at the college for 36 hours to assist in the investigation.
Vincent Pascale’s professional experience helped him assess the risks and make the right decisions. However, he went beyond the call of duty as head of security, taking personal risks to save students from a bloodbath.
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:
Alain Baillargeon (posthumously), Victoria
On December 27, 2006, with the temperature at about -35 oC, Marco Bédard, Martin Baillargeon, Céline Loubert and Alain Baillargeon set out on snowmobiles to cross the Laforge 1 reservoir in Baie James on a hunting trip.
Suddenly, the ice gave way beneath the snowmobiles driven by Céline Loubert and Alain Baillargeon. Mr. Baillargeon managed to haul himself onto the ice and grabbed Céline Loubert to stop her sinking into the glacial waters of the reservoir, but was unable to pull her from the hole in the ice.
Marco Bédard came to the rescue with a rope. Joining forces, Marco Bédard and Martin Baillargeon were at last able to pull Céline Loubert from the water.
They made the decision to return to camp. But their ordeal was not yet over: the ice broke again beneath the weight of the snowmobile carrying Marco Bédard and Céline Loubert, and both were thrown into the icy water. Mr. Bédard managed to clamber onto the ice and held on to Ms. Loubert until Martin Baillargeon arrived to lend a hand. The two men were able to pull her to safety.
Soaked to the skin after their adventure, the three people sought shelter on an island while Martin Baillargeon went to get assistance on the only remaining snowmobile. Help arrived about 90 minutes later, and Céline Loubert, Marco Bédard and Alain Baillargeon were taken to the health centre but released after a few hours.
It is important to note that, in some cases, acts of heroism are not recognized simply because a hero’s name is not put forward during the nominations period. Both Marco Bédard and Martin Baillargeon played a key role in the rescue related here.
Jean-Sébastien Lapointe, Repentigny
On February 19, 2006, during a period of intense cold, three children were playing on a frozen lake in Chertsey: Jean-Sébastien Lapointe, 13, and his brothers Jean-Olivier, 10, and Jean-Philippe, 9.
The two younger brothers suddenly felt the ice break beneath their feet. The lake was deep, and they clung to the ice. Jean-Philippe managed to get a foothold on the ice and clambered out. He returned to dry land. Jean-Olivier, still clinging to the ice, was unable to get out of the water, and so Jean-Sébastien crawled forward, face down on the ice, caught hold of him and pulled him out.
The two young brothers were soaked. Jean-Sébastien Lapointe escorted them back to the cottage and helped them get changed and warm up. Then, he went to fetch the adult members of the party, who had gone on a trek. Throughout the incident, he remained calm and acted maturely.
Jade Nantel, Kiamika
On June 4, 2006, Jade Nantel, her mother Rachel Thibault, her stepfather Gilles Dion and a friend were fishing in a lake in parc de La Vérendrye. In the middle of the lake, their boat hit a rock and Mr. Dion was thrown into the water by the force of the impact. He could not swim, and was not wearing a lifejacket. To make things worse, the boat was immobilized after the motor jammed.
Jade Nantel, who was wearing a lifejacket, jumped into the water. While swimming toward her struggling stepfather, she tried to reassure him. When she reached him, her mother threw another lifejacket, but it landed too far away. With her stepfather holding her by the waist, Jade Nantel swam toward the boat, where her mother and fried were able to pull them aboard. The excursion was over, but happily no-one was hurt.
John Austin Thriepland, Très-Saint-Rédempteur
On April 7, 2006, John Austin Thriepland was on board the ferry from Pointe-Fortune to Carillon, when he heard that someone had just jumped into the lake. He dived overboard and quickly swam toward the victim, who was rapidly drifting away. The ferry slowed and turned back, and a lifebuoy was thrown to Mr. Thriepland. It took him three minutes to reach the man, who was already unconscious. He grabbed him by the sweater, and then by the belt, and attached him to the lifebuoy.
They swam back to the ferry, and the crew lowered a gangway and helped Mr. Thriepland bring the lifeless body on board. As the ferry continued its crossing, John Austin Thriepland applied resuscitation techniques. The ambulance technicians waiting on the Carillon quay then took charge of the victim.
In the "accidents" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Christian Demers, Sainte-Cécile-de-Lévrard
On September 29, 2006, Christian Demers was driving along route 218 at Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets when he saw what looked like an accident. He jumped out of his car and spotted another vehicle overturned in the ditch. Flames were coming from under the hood, and the car itself was full of smoke. Mr. Demers smashed a window and heard somebody coughing inside. He asked for help from another motorist, Yves Paquin, and together they located a man, who was conscious, in the passenger seat.
After failing to lift the man from the car, they tried to put the fire out, without success. They then opened the door on the driver’s side, each grabbing one of the man’s legs, and managed to pull him to safety on the side of the road. He told them that there had been no-one else in the car.
Christian Demers was devastated to learn later that there had been another person in the car, who had died in the accident.
Claude Girard, Montréal-Nord
On September 30, 2006, driving along route 19, Claude Girard saw the structure of the Concorde overpass collapse onto the road beneath. He pulled up and, for the next twenty minutes, worked tirelessly to free the victims, and also to guide rescuers to people who needed assistance.
First, he rushed to a truck that had plummeted from the overpass. The driver was injured and trapped inside the vehicle. Mr. Girard used all his strength and skill to pull the man carefully from the wreckage. Next, he helped another rescuer trying to pull an unconscious motorcyclist from a gap in the concrete, before checking the state of two injured people in a car and telling them that an ambulance had arrived on the scene. Without waiting, he and the other rescuer moved on to a car on its side. Overcoming many obstacles, they helped release and comfort the occupants. Mr. Girard then helped guide the rescue party and move accident victims to a safer location.
Claude Girard worked as a first-line responder on the scene of the accident. Instead of remaining a spectator, he took direct action. As a key witness and player, he gave evidence to the commission of inquiry into the collapse of the Concorde overpass.
Serge Loyer and Patrick Pilon, Saint-Norbert
During the evening of November 21, 2006, in Saint-Norbert, a car crashed into the ditch in front of the house of Serge Loyer. Seeing flames, he rushed outside with a fire extinguisher, but was not able to put out the fire. The car windows were broken and, inside, a woman was screaming. A second fire extinguisher was not enough to fight the blaze. Mr. Loyer’s neighbour, Patrick Pilon, joined in, but the two men were driven back by the intensity of the flames.
Suddenly, they saw that the victim had been able to push herself through the windscreen up to her shoulders. Grabbing her coat, they were able to drag her out and extinguish the embers that were burning her.
Help arrived soon after. The victim had serious burns, but what would have happened without the quick, energetic actions of Serge Loyer and Patrick Pilon?
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Bruno Boudreault, Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs
On December 12, 2006, in Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs, Bruno Boudreault was coming home from work when he was told that his 92-year-old mother, Fernande Gaudreault, had called about a heating problem. When he called her back, she said that the house was full of smoke, and he told her to leave the house and wait for him outside.
When Bruno Boudreault arrived at his mother’s house, he had to break the door down to get into the smoke-filled interior. He found his mother in the middle of the kitchen, immobile and speechless, close to the fire. He asked her to follow him, but she did not move. He quickly gathered her up in his arms and carried her to safety in his car. The fire grew quickly and the house was engulfed in flames. A neighbour called the fire department, and then took Ms. Gaudreault into his house.