2009 Award Recipients (for actions in 2007)
On November 9, 2009, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 23 persons in recognition of their acts of good citizenship in 2007. 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, Kathleen Weil, who awarded 8 medals and 15 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 24th 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:
David Asselin, La Doré
On the morning of April 9, 2007, David Asselin, aged six and a half, was playing with his sister Mégan, aged four and a half, outside their grandparents’ cottage at La Doré. Lac Rond was frozen, but the ice was thin. The children played around their father, who was splitting wood, and their grandparents, who were working in the garage.
Suddenly, Mégan slipped off the jetty onto the frozen lake. The ice gave way and she fell into the freezing water. Her brother immediately lay down on the ice, grabbed hold of her and held on with both hands.
David, paralyzed by the cold and emotion, had trouble keeping hold of Mégan. When at last he was able to utter a few shouts, he attracted the attention of the dog, which started to bark. His grandfather, catching sight of David’s tuque, ran towards the lake, while David begged him to hurry as his strength began to give out. Mr. Théberge was able to catch hold of Mégan’s collar and lift her from the water.
In saving his little sister from drowning, David not only showed outstanding courage for his age, but also demonstrated his love for his sister.
Yan Beaucage, Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu
On November 20, 2007, in the evening, Yan Beaucage and his spouse were crossing the Richelieu river by ferry. As the ferry came into to Saint-Antoine, they saw a car driving down the road to the ramp. The car started to skid on ice, and then went into the river.
While his spouse dialled 911, Mr. Beaucage grabbed a pole, but to no avail as the car sank into the water and started to drift. He seized a life jacket, jumped into the cold water and swam towards the car.
When Mr. Beaucage reached the car, the front half was already submerged. Climbing onto the trunk, he tried to break the window on the driver’s side with his bare hands. Then, he dived back in to find the handle, but was forced to come back to the surface because of the intense pain. As a last resort, with the victim begging for help, he jumped with both feet on the rear window to try to break it, but in vain. He tried again to open the door. At last, frozen and with no energy left, he swam with difficulty back to the ferry, against the current.
The victim unfortunately perished during this tragic event, but Yan Beaucage risked everything to save a human life.
Lina Ciavaglia, Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon
On the evening of August 26, 2007, in Rawdon, the Parc des Cascades was just about to close. Lina Ciavaglia, on patrol, was busy helping the last visitors to leave when a woman ran up shouting that her husband was stuck in the water. Ms. Ciavaglia asked a colleague to call for help, and went down to the river. Looking in the direction indicated by the woman, who had stayed higher up on the bank, she saw a man in his fifties, out of breath, in a panic and clinging to a rock.
Ms. Ciavaglia assessed the strength of the current, as she had been trained to do. After taking off her boots and leaving her telephone, she swam towards the victim. She had to act quickly, knowing that the water filtration gates were about to open.
When she reached the man, Ms. Ciavaglia reassured him and helped him into the rapids. She was able to push him across the 15 feet of water separating him from the bank—but was unable to get out herself. She was swept away by the current, which dashed her against the rocks on all sides. She sank to the bottom and lost consciousness. Luckily, help was at hand, and she was pulled from the water and taken to hospital.
To save a man in danger, Lina Ciavaglia almost lost her own life in the rapids she dared to cross.
Alexis Laliberté, Montréal
On the morning of November 11, 2007, in Verdun, Alexis Laliberté was walking on the cycle path along the St. Lawrence. Hearing shouts, he quickly realized that they were not the shouts of children playing but shouts of panic.
After catching sight of a person’s head in the water, he made an instant decision. He removed his jacket and jumped into the river, which was quite deep at that point. He was quickly chilled, and had to fight against the current. As he reduced the distance of 10 metres between himself and a 12-year-old girl, Mr. Laliberté saw another person—a 10-year-old boy choking in the water.
He was quick-witted enough to place the children, one after the other, between himself and the riverbank. Then he strenuously began to swim back to the bank, pushing the children in front of him.
When he got close to the bank, Mr. Laliberté gave the girl one last push and she climbed out of the water. With his last reserves of strength he dragged the boy, who was in a bad state, onto the shore.
At the risk of his life, Alexis Laliberté saved two children from certain drowning.
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
On September 22, 2007, in the morning, Jean-Marie Grenier and his wife, Anne Cliche-Grenier, were getting ready to open up their store on Île-Perrot. Smelling burning, Mr. Grenier’s wife saw smoke coming from the apartment occupied by their friend Michel Fillion. They knew that he was in.
As his wife called the fire department, Mr. Grenier rushed towards the duplex. He knocked on the ground-floor door; the woman and children in the apartment were able to escape. Next, he went to the steel door at the entrance to Mr. Filion’s apartment, but it was locked. He knocked and rang the bell, but obtained no response. Mr. Grenier had to ram the door several times with his shoulder before it opened.
The stairwell was filled with thick smoke. Filling his lungs with air, Mr. Grenier went up. When he got to the apartment, he was suffocating and blinded by smoke. Flames were coming from the kitchen. He called out to Mr. Filion who, unaware of the situation, was in the shower. Mr. Grenier was able to feel his way to the bathroom, where he grabbed his friend, took him outside and led him to his own home.
Jean-Marie Grenier did not hesitate to brave the flames and risk his own life to save his friend.
Norbert Hébert, Lacolle
On the morning of November 11, 2007, Norbert Hébert and his spouse were at home in Lacolle. Noticing flames coming from the mobile home across the road, Mr. Hébert ran to help while his spouse called for help.
A teenager who had escaped through a window ran up, shouting that this sister was in her bedroom at the back. Mr. Hébert hurried round, picking up a piece of wood on the way.
Through the window, he saw the girl’s hands slide down the glass and then disappear. He smashed the glass, but given the height of the window, he asked the boy for a ladder and climbed up into the smoke-filled bedroom.
Mr. Hébert’s located the girl’s body on the floor where she had fainted. Suffocated by the smoke, he had to go back to the window to catch his breath. He managed to pick up the girl, and then, leaning out of the window, to hand her to a neighbour. She was unconscious but still breathing. Mr. Hébert too escaped from the building, just as the emergency services arrived.
By facing danger with courage and self-assurance, Norbert Hébert saved a young girl’s life before the emergency services arrived.
Claudette Paquet, Trois-Rivières
On May 7, 2007, Claudette Paquet learned first-hand about the problems created by a fire in a seniors’ home.
Ms. Paquet worked as an orderly in the Seigneurie residence in Rigaud. She was just about to take dinner up to the occupant of room 238 when the fire alarm sounded. She immediately ran to the dining room to tell the people there to leave the building. Realizing that four residents were still in their rooms, she went to fetch them.
On the first floor, Ms. Paquet opened two doors and shouted at the occupants to get out. She rushed to the second floor. In room 238, the smoke was so thick that Ms. Paquet could hardly see the flames as they licked at the curtains. Coughing heavily, she crawled towards the bed while calling out to the occupant. She got no reply, and was forced back.
Despite the suffocating smoke blocking her view, she went into the neighbouring room, grabbed the occupant who refused to leave, and took her outside. She returned to the first floor, where there were still two residents, took the first one outside, and then carried the second one to safety in her arms.
Thanks to the calmness and exceptional bravery of Claudette Paquet, 26 of the 27 residents were saved.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Guillaume Letendre, Charny
On the morning of April 4, 2007, Guillaume Letendre, a teacher at the Bois-Joli school in Sept-Îles, was on his break when he heard shouting. He was told that a man had grabbed a student and was holding him hostage in the schoolyard.
Mr. Letendre ran outside to the place where a frantic man was holding Daven, nine, by the neck. The teacher stopped three metres away and tried to calm the man and reassure the terrified child. However, the aggressor dragged his young victim to the street and began to wander away. Mr. Letendre followed from a short distance.
Seeing the man move towards a gas station and convenience store, Mr. Letendre entered the store to warn the people present. He came back out and followed the aggressor and his victim. Suddenly, the man seized a gas nozzle and began to soak Daven. Then, he put a hand in his pocket. Instantly, Mr. Letendre leaped on him and locked his arm. Taking advantage of the diversion, Daven fled to the convenience store, while another person helped Mr. Letendre control the man until the police arrived.
Guillaume Letendre’s action was decisive: if he had not placed his own safety in peril, the child would have met a horrible end.
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:
Yves Boisvert, Patrick Fortin and Réjean Girard, Laval
On January 18, 2007, Réjean Girard was at home in Laval when he heard cries for help. Outside, in the Mille-Îles river, two men were clinging to blocks of ice in the water, 50 feet from shore.
Mr. Girard ran to get ropes and a ladder. A neighbour, Yves Boisvert, was also alerted by the cries for help. He called the emergency services and ran towards Mr. Girard, who gave him a rope. They were joined by a passing motorist, Patrick Fortin. Crawling on all fours across the thin ice, Mr. Fortin and Mr. Boisvert slowly approached the victims, while Mr. Girard laid his ladder across the frozen river.
Halfway to the first victim, Mr. Boisvert and Mr. Fortin threw him a rope several times, but he was too cold to catch it. With Mr. Boisvert clinging to his feet, Mr. Fortin crawled closer to the man, caught hold of his arm, and then he and Mr. Boisvert pulled as hard as they could. They had to try several times to get him out of the water.
Just then the firemen arrived and pulled the second victim from the water.
Without the quick intervention of the three lifesavers, the victims would not have been able to hold onto the slippery ice much longer.
Francis Breton and Gabriel Leclerc Mailloux, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
In the afternoon of January 3, 2007, Francis Breton was in a bar in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, when a man burst in to say that a woman had jumped into the nearby Richelieu river.
Followed by the bar owners, Mr. Breton ran toward the river while his sister called 911. He saw the victim, a woman, 20 feet from the bank. Unable to find a stick, Mr. Breton undressed and jumped into the deep, icy water.
In the meantime, Gabriel Leclerc Mailloux, who was passing in a car, saw the people gathered on the bank and stopped to offer help. As soon as the victim was pointed out to him, Gabriel undressed and dived in to help Francis Breton, who had already caught hold of the woman. The two men were able to bring her back to the riverbank.
At the riverbank, however, they were unable to lift the woman out of the water. Not only was she weighed down by her soaking-wet coat, but a vertical concrete wall also created an obstacle. They moved towards a more accessible place, where two men were waiting to pull the victim from the river.
The courage and determination of Francis Breton and Gabriel Leclerc Mailloux saved the victim from drowning.
André Chouinard, Rodrigue Lemieux and Gilles Mathurin, Gaspé
When a natural element such as water is unleashed, all that can be done is to try to limit the damage. This was the experience of André Chouinard, Rodrigue Lemieux and Gilles Mathurin during the night of August 8 to 9, 2007 when heavy floods struck Rivière-au-Renard.
As Mr. Mathurin and Lemieux, both employed by the city of Gaspé, were carrying out an inspection round, they saw several citizens trapped in their homes.
Suddenly, the river overflowed its banks and a mobile home, washed away by the current, was jammed against the bridge structure. On the bridge, André Chouinard heard the occupants calling for help, and he helped the city employees rescue the people from their home. Despite their efforts, they managed to save only two of the four occupants.
Mr. Lemieux and Mr. Mathurin were able to help several people trapped in apartments or mobile homes, including a sick elderly man and a terrified woman.
They took risks during the whole operation. For example, Mr. Mathurin did not hesitate to come to Mr. Lemieux’s assistance when his vehicle, which was carrying several people he had just rescued, ended up in the ditch.
It is not known how many more lives would have been lost that night in Rivière-au-Renard without their determination and tireless work.
Daniel Gagné, Jonquière
On August 4, 2007, in the afternoon, Daniel Gagné and his brother-in-law were enjoying the strong waves on Lac Saint-Jean and were joined by three men, including Yvon Fortin. Mr. Gagné warned them not to go out too far because of the strength of the waves.
However, Mr. Fortin swam out to meet the waves head-on, and was quickly swept out 100 feet from the shore. As soon as he realized what has happening, Mr. Gagné swam towards Mr. Fortin, saw that he was in difficulty and called for help. The victim, pummelled by the waves, was fighting for his life.
Mr. Gagné came up behind Mr. Fortin. After trying to tow him to shore, he decided to push him step by step towards the beach.
As the victim got closer to the beach, Mr. Gagné had to fight the undertow and swallowed a lot of water. Fearing for his own safety, he was tempted to give up, but forced himself to continue to the shore. At last, he was able to climb out of the water, and a friend of Mr. Fortin caught hold of him and dragged him to the beach.
Daniel Gagné mobilized all his strength and energy to save another person’s life.
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Stéphane Gauthier and David Tremblay, Chicoutimi and Pierre-Olivier Marchildon, Québec
On November 8, 2007, Pierre-Olivier Marchildon and Stéphane Gauthier were spending the evening in their apartment with a friend, David Tremblay. Suddenly, Pierre-Olivier heard shouting and went to the window: flames were coming from the third floor of the building across the street.
While Pierre-Olivier was talking to the 911 operator, a young, pregnant woman appeared on a window-ledge, her legs dangling over empty space. He called his friends, and all three of them rushed across the street. The woman, surrounded by flames and smoke, shouted to them that she was about to jump. As Pierre-Olivier tried to talk her out of jumping, his friends dashed into the neighbouring building, where they had spotted a window close to the victim.
David and Stéphane went into the building, sounded the alarm and went to the apartment on the third floor. Opening the window, they were only two feet away from the victim. Carefully, Stéphane caught hold of the woman and then, with David’s help, lifted her across the gap. After wrapping her in a blanket, they carried her out of the building and handed her over to the ambulance technicians.
In a situation in which every second counted, the daring, far-sighted actions of Stéphane, Pierre-Olivier and David saved the victim from a terrifying choice: burning alive, or jumping and losing her baby.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Florence Bruneau-Guidotti, de Montréal
On a fine spring afternoon on May 27, 2007, 12-year-old Florence Bruneau-Guidotti and her father were driving through dense traffic on Highway 132 in Longueuil.
Suddenly, Florence noticed that their van was veering off to the left, where it hit the concrete separating wall several times. Florence realized that her father was unconscious—in fact, he was having an epileptic fit, with his foot still on the accelerator pedal.
Immediately, Florence grabbed the phone and dialled 911. At the same time, she crawled over Mr. Bruneau and, by steering to the right, managed to cross three lanes of traffic. She stopped the van on the shoulder, against the concrete barrier, while her father remained unconscious.
The 911 operator asked Florence if she should drive the vehicle to the next exit, but Florence, in a panic and crying, said she did not know how to drive. Instead, she triggered the hazard warning flashers and remained in the van, where she took care of her father. The emergency services arrived quickly, and Mr. Bruneau and his daughter were taken to hospital.
Thanks to her swift, appropriate response, Florence doubtless prevented a major traffic accident.
Félicia Hastie, Pierrefonds and Francis Quévillon, Laval
On October 28, 2007, Félicia Hastie and Francis Quévillon were expecting a quiet evening babysitting their friends’ children at Pincourt.
The doorbell rang and Félicia went to answer it. She was paralyzed by fright at the sight of a corpulent woman brandishing a knife and a revolver. The women forced her way in and threatened the couple, demanding money and asking where the baby was. The young couple managed to avoid answering her questions.
While Francis began to fight the intruder, Félicia quickly called 911. Speaking to the operator, she barricaded herself inside the bedroom where the child was sleeping. In the living room Francis was stabbed in the knee. He was badly hurt and bleeding, but refused to let go of the woman. Gradually, he got the upper hand, and was able to seize the weapons and immobilize the intruder.
Carrying the phone, Félicia ran out of the house to note the exact address, which the police were unable to locate. She went back inside and triggered the alarm system. The security company was able to guide the police to the right address.