2011 Award Recipients (for actions in 2010)
On November 28, 2011, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 23 persons in recognition of their acts of good citizenship in 2010. 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, Jean-Marc Fournier, who awarded 12 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 26th 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 "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Frédéric Gauthier, Montréal
On May 4, 2010, Frédéric Gauthier was going home in Montréal when he came across a group of panic-stricken people shouting “Fire! Fire!”.
Seeing an apartment building in flames, Mr. Gauthier drew closer and was told that a couple, including a disabled man, lived in the smoke-filled apartment. At the same time, he saw a terrified elderly lady on a balcony.
He jumped over the railing of the balcony where the woman was sitting. She showed no reaction, even though half of her hair was already blackened. Mr. Gauthier picked her up, lifted her over the railing and passed her to another rescuer.
He then went into the apartment, where the smoke was so thick he had to crawl towards the voice he could hear. In the bedroom, the disabled man was unable to move. His wife, hanging on to the bed, was categorical: “I don’t want to leave my husband here to die. I won’t leave without him.”
Frédéric Gauthier was determined to save both their lives. He resolutely picked up the man in his arms, took hold of the woman and went out into the corridor. Blinded by smoke, he felt his way along the wall to the outside air, and safety for both victims.
He even went back into the smoke-filled apartment to check that there was nobody else inside.
In the "drowning risks" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Jean-François Bernier and Marc Lebel, Port-Cartier
On July 22, 2010, five children aged 7 to 11, accompanied by their grandmother, were swimming from the Baignade beach in the Rivière-Pentecôte sector of Port-Cartier. The parents were also on the beach, a few feet away from the group of swimmers.
The water barely reached to the swimmers’ knees but, suddenly, a strong current swept them away from the beach. Three adults leaped into the water after hearing their children’s cries for help. Nadia Lavoie grabbed hold of her son and brought him back to shore. Marc Lebel covered a distance of around 400 feet before reaching two young girls, who clung to him nervously. Mr. Lebel was able to drag them back to the beach, followed by a boy who was able to swim back unaided. Mr. Lebel quickly dialled 911.
Jean-François Bernier swam towards the most distant child. He had difficulty locating him, because he kept disappearing beneath the water. The waves had reached a height of two to three feet.
When Mr. Bernier reached the place where he had last seen the child, he dived into the cold, murky water, reaching around blindly. Luckily, he grabbed hold of the child, who was no longer breathing. Mr. Bernier tried to revive him, and after several chest compressions, he began to breathe.
Holding the boy firmly under his right arm, Mr. Bernier began the swim back to shore. The grandmother was still in the water and when Mr. Bernier reached her, she was losing strength, so he grabbed her with his other hand. He was exhausted, and decided not to “fight the current” but to let himself drift on his back. When he had regained enough strength he started swimming again and reached the shore. Everyone was safe and sound.
Peter Durand, Mirabel
In the evening of February 19, 2010, the Durand-Séreau family were getting ready to go to their cottage on Île Carillon, near Saint-André-d’Argenteuil. They intended to cross the Deux-Montagnes lake, as usual, by following the line of fishing cabins across the ice.
The parents and their dog, Roxy, led the way on the first snowmobile. They were followed by their two children, Loris, 14 and Peter, 11.
Three-quarters of the way across, the first snowmobile broke through the ice and fell into the water beneath. Loris stopped the second snowmobile and rushed over to drag his parents from the water, along with their dog.
The father decided that they would continue on in two stages. First, the elder son would drive his parents to the island; then, he would come back for his brother and the dog. However, they had barely gone another 100 metres when the ice broke again. The younger son, Peter, looked for his father—exhausted, he had sunk into the water.
Keeping his cool, Peter removed the dog’s leash and threw it to his brother, who caught hold as Peter pulled on it with all his might. Next, Peter asked his mother to move closer, since the ice she was on was too thin for them to come to her assistance. After several attempts, she managed to catch the leash and Peter pulled her to safety.
They began a long walk to go for help.
Jean Laurin and Yves Laurin, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Vincent Provençal, Sutton
In the morning of February 21, 2010, brothers Yves and Jean Laurin, along with their nephew Vincent Provençal, were fishing on the ice on the St. Lawrence river facing the breakwater at Sainte-Catherine. In the distance, two snowmobiles were crossing the ice. Suddenly, one of them disappeared.
The three men ran over, but when they got within a few metres of the hole, the ice broke again. Yves Laurin was neck-deep in the water, Vincent Provençal was in up to his waist and Jean Laurin up to his knees. Despite this, they were determined not to let the snowmobiler drown. Once they had pulled themselves from the water, they formed a human chain.
After counting to three, the men, along with the victim’s friend, pulled with all their strength, hanging on to each other’s heels. They tried several times to pull the victim from the water, but he sank back every time. The man was weak, frozen, semi-conscious and weighed down by his soaking clothes. The rescuers refused to give up: “This evening, you’ll be eating supper with your family,” Vincent Provençal told him.
And he was right. Thanks to the determination of Yves, Jean and Vincent, the man was able to go home to his family.
Danick Lévesque, Montréal
On February 21, 2010, Danick Lévesque was at home with his spouse Janie Hallé-Bolduc close to the Rivière des Prairies in Montréal when a woman knocked at the door.
She was clearly in a panic, and explained that a person had fallen into the river and was drifting downstream. Ms. Hallé-Bolduc immediately called 911, while Mr. Lévesque pulled on a pair of boots and seized a hockey stick. The victim was drifting in the river, with only her head emerging from the water.
Mr. Lévesque walked out onto the ice, but quickly dropped to all-fours to avoid falling through. The victim shouted for help, and did all she could to stay afloat. Danick Lévesque, afraid that she would be carried off by the current, had to move quickly.
He reached out towards the woman with his hockey stick, and she was able to catch hold. He pulled her over and, kneeling on the ice in front of her, pulled first on one arm, then the other, and finally on her belt to drag her from the freezing water.
His spouse came to help and together they carried the victim to where other rescuers were waiting.
Yves Poirier, Campbell River (British Columbia)
On December 24, 2010, in the afternoon, a man and his spouse were out snowmobiling along the Rivière Bell in Senneterre when the ice broke under them. The man, a poor swimmer, tried desperately to catch hold of some support, but the ice kept on breaking up. For several minutes, he fought to maintain a grip on a patch of slightly stronger ice. His spouse, unable to help, urged him to hold on while she called 911.
On the bank, Yves Poirier noticed that someone had fallen through a hole in the ice. He immediately rushed down to the river and, seizing one end of the tow-rope that the victim’s spouse was using, told her to stay put while he went out onto the ice.
The ice cracked with each step he took, but instead of turning back, Yves Poirier dropped to all-fours. He threw the rope to the man in the water and, since he was still on thin ice himself, he started to move back. After a few pulls, he managed to drag the victim out of the water up to his waist. In the meantime, Yves Poirier’s father came to help and, with two of them pulling on the rope, they were able to drag the man from the water and return him to his family in time for Christmas.
Christmas is a time for family celebrations—which become especially meaningful after such an unusual experience!
Marc-Olivier Rioux, Saint-Jean-de-Dieu
On February 10, 2010, Marc-Olivier Rioux, aged 12, was out with his friends on a frozen lake close to the elementary school in the Cabano sector. The children were following a snowshoe trail on ice that appeared thick enough to support their weight.
Marc-Olivier pointed out a hole in the ice, a few metres away, to his friends. Unfortunately, one of them ventured a little too close, and as the ice broke he was plunged into the icy water. The lake bottom was muddy and offered no foothold. He shouted for help and as he struggled his feet sank into the mud, preventing him from swimming.
The children, frightened of falling into the water themselves, rushed to the shore. Only Marc-Olivier Rioux remained with the victim.
Marc-Olivier crouched down and told his friend to stop moving so that he could catch hold of him but Frédéric, panic-stricken, continued to struggle. After telling him to calm down, Marc-Olivier tried to reach him again.
Showing courage and coolness under pressure, Marc-Olivier stretched out his arms and, catching hold of his friend, pulled with all his might to drag him from the water.
The two boys caught up with the rest of the group and, together, they went back to school—out of danger but suddenly more aware of the fragility of human existence.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Simon Bernier, Chambly
Mr. Bernier is travelling outside Québec, and is represented by his uncle, Pierre Bernier.
On July 16, 2010, in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, a floatplane carrying five fishermen flew into thick fog. Because of the reduced visibility, the pilot had to lose altitude and find a lake to land. Suddenly, the plane struck a mountain, disintegrated and ended up in thick forest. The cockpit burst into flames. Simon Bernier, aged 15, was the only person still conscious.
The teenager realized that he could do nothing for the pilot and the front-seat passenger. However, screwing up his courage, he affronted the fire and dragged his father and great-uncle one by one from the wreckage. His father asked him to look for his little brother who had been thrown out of the plane during the crash. Simon found him covered in mud and debris from the plane. He tried to resuscitate him, but in vain. His brother Louis, aged 11, died in his arms.
Simon went back to his father who, only half conscious, asked where his younger son was. In reply, Simon placed a photo of the family in his hands. His father died shortly afterwards.
Simon looked after his great-uncle Pierre, the only other survivor. He built a rough bed out of spruce branches, and sat down to wait. Occasionally he heard the sounds of a plane engine in the distance, and each time he climbed onto one of the plane’s wings, striking it with all his strength so that he could be seen or heard. Rejecting the idea of setting off to get help, he decided to stay with his great-uncle until rescue arrived. It was only in the evening, several hours after the accident, that Simon saw the first plane attempting to land.
The inner strength and courage of some individuals sometimes leaves us speechless.
Patrick Grondin, Lévis
In the afternoon of May 2, 2010, Patrick Grondin was in his backyard in Lévis when he heard shouts from a neighbouring building. He saw a woman coming down the steps, shouting for help. Behind her, he could see her spouse, armed with a machete.
Mr. Grondin ran towards them. The man was using the machete to hit the woman who, crouching on the floor, was trying to protect herself. Blood was spattered on the walls.
A few feet away from the aggressor, Patrick Grondin shouted to the victim to flee, at the same time attracting the man’s attention. The woman, in a state of shock, understood that she had a chance to escape and ran, but the man caught hold of her and inflicted new wounds.
Patrick Grondin seized the man by the throat, strangling him momentarily. He tried to gain control, and called out to neighbours to call the emergency services and take care of the couple’s baby, who had been left alone in the apartment during the violent struggle.
The police arrived after a two-minute wait. The woman survived her injuries, and her baby is in the best of health. Without the intervention of the Good Samaritan Patrick Grondin, who knows how this story might have ended?
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 "accidents" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Juean Beaudoin, Saint-Hubert and Micaël Girard, Saint-Césaire
In the early hours of October 8, 2010, Juean Beaudoin and Micaël Girard were driving home from work along Highway 40. Going through the Kirkland sector, they noticed an overturned vehicle in flames.
Mr. Beaudoin ran towards the pick-up truck and looked through the windshield. He could see two women trapped inside, unable to move but still conscious. The flames were licking at the windshield, close to the two victims.
Other motorists had stopped by this time and called the emergency services, but the life of the two women was in danger.
Juean Beaudoin tried to kick through the back window, but in vain. He asked his colleague to bring tools from their vehicle to break the glass.
Luckily, Mr. Beaudoin and Mr. Girard were both fence installers, and had all kinds of tools with them. Juean Beaudoin was handed a fire extinguisher, and Micaël Girard arrived with a sledgehammer. They managed to smash the glass, but were driven back by a ball of fire. One of the victims screamed: “Get me out of here!”
Juean Beaudoin grabbed hold of her and was able to pull her from the truck, which at this point was completely filled with smoke. Mr. Beaudoin then crawled halfway into the truck where, blinded by smoke, he flailed around until he located the second victim. He pulled her from the wreck with help from Micaël Girard.
Unexpectedly, another vehicle then hit the truck from behind, and the gas tank exploded. Luckily, the two rescuers had already taken the two women to a safe distance.
Sometimes, the right people are in the right place at the right time—with the right tools.
André Fauchon, Saint-Camille-de-Lellis
On December 31, 2010, André Fauchon was driving towards Sainte-Justine de Bellechasse in the evening. The roads were icy. Suddenly, on a curve, he saw a car in flames.
Mr. Fauchon pulled over and went up to a group of people who had also stopped and were watching the scene. He heard shouts coming from another car a short distance away. Running towards the car, he saw flames emerge. The driver was trapped inside and feared for his life.
Only one exit route seemed possible: the broken window on the passenger side, which created a small gap. André Fauchon managed to slide his upper body inside the smoke-filled vehicle, located the victim and promised to help him escape. Miraculously, he managed to free the man from his position.
Mr. Fauchon’s rapid reflexes clearly saved the victim’s life.
Ronald Paquin (posthumously), Sainte-Barbe
On February 27, 2010, Ronald Paquin and his spouse were spending the winter evening quietly at home. At the same time, the driver of a car containing three passengers, driving along Highway 132 in Sainte-Barbe, in the Montérégie region, hit a patch of black ice and lost control. The vehicle skidded off the road, ending up in front of Mr. Paquin’s house. One of the passengers knocked on the door to ask for help.
Ronald Paquin, followed by his spouse, ran outside without hesitation to assist the car’s occupants. While he was busy close to the car, saving other people’s lives, another car skidded on the ice at the same place and smashed into Mr. Paquin and his spouse.
The emergency services arrived and Mr. Paquin was rushed to hospital, but his life could not be saved.
When tragedy strikes, it often does so in a mysterious way—and sometimes in exceptional circumstances.
Maxime Saucier-Boucher, Saint-Paul-de-Joliette
On August 17, 2010, Maxime Saucier-Boucher was travelling to work in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes when he drove past an overturned pickup. He noticed that fuel was leaking from under the vehicle, and that none of the many people who had stopped to help dared to do anything. Small flames were visible under the truck, where an injured man lay trapped.
Maxime felt that the truck could be set back on its wheels, and shouted out to the assemble by-standers, “Come on, let’s roll it over, let’s get him out, let’s go!”. Several men came to his assistance, but failed to flip the truck. The fire was burning fiercely, driving people back. Maxime climbed up and tried to smash the windshield, but to no avail. The flames grew larger, increasing the risk of an explosion.
Maxime ran towards a heavy truck to find a fire extinguisher. Luckily, the truck was well equipped! Seizing the extinguisher, Maxime managed to put out the flames under and inside the vehicle, where the victim’s legs were already singed. Aware that he could not get the man out of the truck, Maxime stayed with him, talking to him and telling him that the emergency services were on their way. He also took the time to check on the occupants of the second vehicle in the crash.
When the emergency services arrived, Maxime decided to go to work. A few months later, he met up with the victim, a moving encounter for both men. Some events make us see life in a different light—and make us appreciate the fact of being alive!
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Mathieu Bouchard, Saint-Augustin (Mirabel) and Jonathan Lebeault, Saint-Eustache
On September 2, 2010, Mathieu Bouchard, Marie-Ève Desjardins and Jonathan Lebeault spent the evening in a bar on Montréal’s Rue Sainte-Catherine. As they were leaving, they notice smoked coming from a window. The floor above the bar contained over forty rented rooms.
The trio split up. Ms. Desjardins remained outside to help look after people once they had left the building, while Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Lebeault ran upstairs to warn the occupants. In the corridor, they encountered dense smoke, and had to duck down before running along the corridor and knocking on all the doors. Most of the occupants were cooperative and agreed to leave, and when necessary, the two friends broke down the door to gain access. A few people who were already in an altered state before the fire gave them some trouble.
They had almost finished their task when Jonathan Lebeault noticed a fire extinguisher and handed it to Mathieu. Together, they broke down the last door at the end of the corridor, at the source of the fire. Inside, they were met by dense smoke. Jonathan covered his mouth as Mathieu emptied the contents of the fire extinguisher towards the blaze.
Suddenly, the last man in the room, who was in a confused state, threw Mathieu to the floor before becoming unconscious. Out of breath, Jonathan and Mathieu dragged him to the exit. All the building’s residents were safely outside.
Had they stayed inside a few seconds longer, Mathieu Bouchard would have been overcome by the smoke and lost consciousness. He was treated in hospital for smoke inhalation.
The three friends later discovered that the fire had started just above a restaurant that used gas for cooking, and that without their actions the fire could have killed a large number of people.
Franck Fabre, Saint-Étienne-de-Lauzon
On July 23, 2010, around four o’clock in the morning, Franck Fabre was starting work at his bakery on Rue Cartier in Québec City. He was just about to place his bread in the oven, as usual, when he heard the crackle of flames outside.
The flames, around six feet high, were coming from a bar in a neighbouring building. Suddenly, there was an explosion, and the flames crept up to the apartments on the second floor.
Mr. Fabre dialled 911 and then rushed up the staircase, shouting out and knocking energetically on the doors to all the apartments. The occupants were all able to escape safe and sound.
Just as he was about to go up to the last apartment, occupied by an elderly couple, the firefighters arrived and took charge of the situation. Mr. Fabre showed them where the fire had started.
As the proverb says, “the early bird catches the worm”. For Franck Fabre, who is up early every morning, being an early riser allowed him to save several lives.
In the "drowning risks" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Alain Lessard, Saint-Étienne-de-Beauharnois
In the evening of May 29, 2010, Alain Lessard was in a boat owned by his friend Richard Tremblay at the Beauharnois marina. They saw a man stagger close to the water’s edge. Alain had a feeling that the man was going to jump—and he was right. After struggling for a moment in the water, the man began to sink from sight.
Alain grabbed the nearest lifejacket. It was far too small for him, but he could rely on his instincts as a swimmer and lifeguard. He quickly managed to reach the young man, who was already underwater, and after dragging him to the surface he tried to calm him. The man was crying, and wanted only to return to the depths.
Alain Lessard grabbed him by the neck and swam towards the boat. The man was agitated and hard to keep afloat, making the trip tiring and perilous. Halfway back to the boat, Mr. Lessard was already exhausted. He started swallowing water, barely kept afloat by his small lifejacket. His friend Richard urged him on until he reached the boat.
Mr. Tremblay extended a pole. Mr. Lessard grabbed it and was pulled up onto the boat’s swimming platform.
The emergency services arrived and took charge of the young man.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Bertrand Carle, Trois-Rivières
On October 29, 2010, the Saint-Paul elementary school in Trois-Rivières was, like every other morning, full of chattering schoolchildren. The classroom doors closed as lessons began.
But on this day, an intruder was stalking the hallway, breathing heavily and looking around nervously as he grasped two heavy sticks. The school’s psycho-educator, Bertrand Carle, intercepted him.
He tried to reassure the man and asked him calmly to hand over his two sticks. The man was incoherent and started moving towards a classroom. Mr. Carle, whose only desire was to keep the students safe, stepped in front of him, determined to bar his route. As he tried to grab the sticks, he stabbed himself on the used syringes the man had kept hidden in his hands.
The police arrived a few minutes later and arrested the intruder. The danger for the school’s children had been averted, but for Mr. Carle it was the start of an agonizing wait after he learned that the man was HIV positive. He had to undergo extensive medical treatment to avoid infection, and fortunately was found to be unaffected.
Today, Bertrand Carle is in excellent health and the students at Saint-Paul elementary school are as energetic as ever.
Jonathan Perrier, Radisson
Jonathan Perrier is a cargo agent. On July 24, 2010, he was at the Grande-Rivière airport in James Bay when he saw several emergency vehicles drive out onto the runway. He immediately thought of the friend he had seen only a few minutes beforehand.
An air traffic controller confirmed that the plane flown by his friend had crashed, carrying four tourists in addition to the pilot.
Jonathan Perrier rushed to the scene of the accident. He had to fight his way through the forest for twenty minutes, guided by the shouts of the crash victims. The plane was destroyed. Wreckage littered the scene and smoke poured from the fuselage.
Jonathan then had to swim across a lake to reach the survivors. They were conscious but injured and in shock. As they were in the lake up to their necks, Jonathan realised that all he could do was to help keep their heads above water. After a few minutes, however, they began to lose strength, and Mr. Perrier realized he had to do something. One by one, he floated the victims away from the wreckage towards the shore. For the next hour, he stayed with them, providing reassurance and encouragement. Unfortunately, his friend Glen Arsenault died in his arms.
At last, a rescue party arrived by helicopter, and Jonathan Perrier helped to evacuate the victims. Without realizing it, he was suffering from hypothermia, and he was also airlifted out.
The survivors of the crash have Jonathan Perrier to thank for saving their lives.