2015 Award Recipients (for actions in 2014)
On October 5, 2015, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 12 persons in recognition of their acts of good citizenship in 2014. 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, Stéphanie Vallée, who awarded 3 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 30th 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 "road accident" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Heather Macmillan, Amos
On February 3, 2014, school crossing guard Heather Macmillan was helping children across the street on their way to school. In addition to the "Stop" sign she was holding in one hand, she was wearing a yellow safety tunic over her coat that made her clearly visible.
As the traffic lights changed to green, Heather stepped out onto the roadway with two young sisters aged 6 and 10. Suddenly, she saw a car travelling to her left on a side-street that seemed to be about to turn in her direction.
Quickly, she realized that the car was not going to stop. She shouted to the two children to get back, and the older sister obediently went back to the sidewalk. However, the younger sister, who was more nervous, stayed by Heather's side. As the car bore down on them, Heather pushed the young girl towards the sidewalk.
The car ran straight into Heather. She was thrown onto the car's windshield and then roughly 5 feet up into the air, before falling onto the road on her back.
Some workers at a nearby business had witnessed the scene and ran to help. One called the police and ambulance service, while the others kept Heather company until the ambulance arrived. She was taken to hospital and found to have two fractured dorsal vertebrae. She remained in hospital for seven days, where she was visited by the two young sisters and their parents.
Despite chronic pain in her lower back, Heather went back to work as a crossing guard in June 2014.
At the risk of her own life, Heather Macmillan saved the life of a young school student.
Jean-Pierre Racicot, Saint-Joachim-de-Shefford
On the evening of August 1, 2014, Jean-Pierre Racicot and his spouse were heading home when suddenly, in the distance, they saw flames at the side of the road. As they got closer, they spotted a burning truck lying in the ditch on the passenger side.
After stopping his car, Jean-Pierre Racicot ran across the road and looked around the truck. He also opened the driver's-side door to look into the cab. Through the thick smoke, he could see that the airbags had deployed, and he glimpsed an unconscious man lying on his side. His seatbelt was still fastened, and flames were already licking at his legs.
Just as Jean-Pierre Racicot was shouting out to his spouse that there was somebody in the truck, a young woman driver also stopped on the side of the road and was able to call 911. Other people arrived quickly, including Steve Rousseau. With his help, Jean-Pierre Racicot once again opened the door to the cab. As he held it open, Steve Rousseau climbed in and unsuccessfully attempted to cut the man's seatbelt.
Next, a volunteer firefighter arrived on the scene and ordered Jean-Pierre Racicot and Steve Rousseau to move away, because the truck was about to explode. The two men climbed back up to the road. However, unable to let a man burn alive while he stood by and did nothing, Jean-Pierre Racicot went back down into the ditch, this time on the passenger side. Through the thick smoke, he was able to reach the victim, grab his arm and begin to move him.
Jean-Pierre Racicot called out for help. With assistance from Steve Rousseau, Jean-Pierre Racicot was able to pull the driver from the wreckage. His spouse, along with a man called Simon, came to their aid and helped carry the man away from the fire. An ambulance arrived and took charge of the victim.
Guided by his instincts, Jean-Pierre Racicot carried out a daring and heroic rescue.
In the "risk of drowning" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
David Del Rosario (posthumously), Montréal
In the afternoon of June 22, 2014, David Del Rosario was enjoying a picnic with five friends. They were in a park beside a river with a strong current, which also had a waterfall and pools suitable for swimming.
Around 6 p.m. David's girlfriend was swimming in mid-river when, suddenly, a surge in the current prevented her from returning to shore. Anxious and afraid, she cried out. David, a strong swimmer, immediately entered the water and swam towards her, but the strong current carried him downstream, where he was quickly lost to sight.
Another friend dived in but, like David, she was swept away by the current before she could reach the swimmer in distress. The three friends still on shore quickly informed the park authorities, and the police were also called.
In the meantime, David's girlfriend had managed to swim back to shore where her friends were waiting. The authorities arranged for a reduction in the current to facilitate the search for David and the other young woman.
In the evening the young woman was found, pressed against a rock and clinging to a tree branch. She was taken to hospital and treated for scrapes and bruises.
David's family were called and came to the park with around twenty friends. A Red Cross crisis response cell and a police command post were set up on-site. Around 9 p.m. the police called off the search because of the danger of the dark, steep site.
David's older brother and friends, equipped with flashlights and water bottles, continued their search all night, in vain.
The next morning, a Sûreté du Québec helicopter, along with divers and firefighters from a specialized water rescue unit, located David's body. The coroner's report stated that David Del Rosario had lost his footing in the water and, carried off by the strong current, lost consciousness after hitting his head against a rock.
David Del Rosario met a tragic death in an attempt to rescue his girlfriend.
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 "risk of drowning" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Alice Bleau, Marie Laberge and Charlotte Marceau, Québec
Late in the afternoon of May 23, 2014, Alice Bleau, Marie Laberge and Charlotte Marceau were swimming in the indoor pool of the building where they lived. Another building resident arrived and, obviously familiar with the pool, dived into the deep end and swam lengths for several minutes.
Suddenly, Alice, Marie and Charlotte noticed that the man, with his imposing physique, was lying lifeless in the water. He was floating on his front, with his face immerged and only the back of his head out of the water.
Charlotte, who was closest, in the deep end where she could not touch the bottom, swam towards him. She was afraid she would be dragged under water if she pulled him by the arm, and so she pushed him towards the steps at the side of the pool.
Alice came to her assistance, holding the man's head out of the water as they swam towards the steps. The man was unconscious. Charlotte and Alice managed to manoeuvre him to the steps, where Marie was waiting. With her help they were able to push him up and drag him with difficulty out of the pool.
The man was now lying on the floor, blue in the face. He gradually regained consciousness and asked to see his wife, giving the rescuers his apartment number on the seventh floor. Alice ran to the elevator, went up to the seventh floor and spoke to the man's wife. In the meantime, Charlotte and Marie took care of the man, who has in poor shape.
Alice came back to the pool with the man's wife who, seeing the state he was in, returned to her apartment to call 911. An ambulance was dispatched a few minutes later, and the man was treated in hospital for 12 days.
Thanks to their presence of mind, Alice Bleau, Marie Laberge and Charlotte Marceau were able to react quickly in an emergency and save a man on the point of drowning.
Éric Brisebois, Coteau-du-Lac and Jean-Philippe Parisien, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield
On March 9, 2014, in mid-afternoon, Éric Brisebois was at home with his spouse when a desperate woman called out to them to help save her husband, who had fallen into the St. Lawrence.
Éric Brisebois asked his spouse to call 911 as he pulled on his coat and boots and grabbed two hockey sticks. He then jumped into his truck and set out on the road along the river, stopping to get out every few metres and scrutinize the shoreline in an attempt to find the man.
After stopping once again, he got out of his truck and waded through the snow, when he suddenly caught sight of the man. He was clinging to the ice to try to keep his head out of the water. Éric ran over and tried to reassure him while pushing a hockey stick towards him. The man caught hold and Éric tried twice to pull him to safety, unsuccessfully.
As this was happening, Jean-Philippe Parisien arrived on the scene after the victim's wife stopped him on the road. He drove on until he saw Éric Brisebois's truck, and then climbed down to the water's edge.
Éric and Jean-Philippe could now try to extricate the man using two hockey sticks. Jean-Philippe lay flat on the ice, with Éric holding on to his legs, but to no avail. Éric left to fetch a climbing rope, while Jean-Philippe encouraged the victim to hold on while piling snow onto the ice to make movement easier.
Éric met his spouse coming towards him with a strap and buckle, used to attach a trailer. He returned to the river and managed to get the strap around the man in the water, and then tightened the buckle under his arms. As Éric kept a firm hold on Jean-Philippe's legs, he once again stretched out on the ice and pulled with all his strength. After several attempts, they at last got the victim out of the water, and helped him to walk to the truck for the drive back to Éric's house.
A few minutes later, the first responders from the city Coteau-du-Lac arrived and took charge of the man.
Thanks to their tenacity and combined efforts, Éric Brisebois and Jean-Philippe Parisien were able to save a man's life.
Charles Di Stefano, Sherbrooke
On May 24, 2014, Charles Di Stefano was on a fishing trip with five of his friends, staying in a remote cottage without cellphone coverage. Around 4 p.m., two of the friends set out on a one-and-a-half hour journey by ATV along a narrow, unmarked trail. They were going to fish for walleye on a wild, rocky river with a strong current.
Charles began to get worried as night fell. His two friends had still not returned and one was in poor health. Around 10 p.m., with one of his friends, he set out to look for them, taking blankets and an outboard motor with him. He drove his Jeep along the path previously taken by the two men, hoping to meet them on their way back. When he failed to find them, he drove on to the river, where he found only the ATV.
Charles, wearing a head lamp, and his friend moved forward to the river's edge and shouted as loudly as they could. The river was choppy and the water was high. It was completely dark and freezing cold. Suddenly, they heard a voice and realized that their two friends were on the opposite bank and unable to cross. Their boat had capsized, they had lost all their equipment, and they were beginning to suffer from hypothermia.
Charles told them not to panic and said he would come to get them. He installed the outboard motor on a second boat and started the engine. The sound of the rapids and the noise of the motor made it difficult to head for the man's voice on the other bank, but he managed to travel 180 metres to where he found the two shipwrecked men. He then had to stand in the freezing water up to his chest to hold the boat steady while the two men clambered aboard.
On the return trip, guided by the current, Charles set a diagonal course, but the crossing was difficult. He reached the other bank, where his friend was waiting. The two rescued men wrapped up warmly in blankets, and the whole group set off by Jeep toward the cottage.
Charles Di Stefano ignored all dangers and showed endless determination to save his two companions in extremely perilous circumstances.
Louis Guimont, Boucherville
On February 2, 2014, at 4:30 p.m., Louis Guimont was shovelling snow from the rear balcony of his house when he heard a shout. As he listened carefully, he heard a second shout that appeared to come from the St. Lawrence river, which flowed along the boundary of his land. He ran to the riverbank, where he heard a third shout. Looking out over the water, he saw a woman's head emerging from the blocks of ice, around 20 metres from shore.
Louis Guimont immediately ran to the steps leading down to the water. As he went, he grabbed some pieces of wood, including some two-by-fours that he had left on the shore the previous fall. He ventured out onto the ice. Since he had no idea of its thickness, he used the wood to spread his weight over a wider area as he crawled towards the woman.
When he reached her, he grabbed her under the arms. She was conscious, and her head was lying sideways on the edge of the ice. Louis Guimont could see that the current was strong and that the woman could easily slip under water. There was no time to lose.
In a firm, reassuring voice, he told the woman to look him in the eye and to follow his instructions. Despite her weak state—she was already hypothermic—she let him know she agreed. He told her that he would pull out from the water in two steps: first her upper body, and then her legs.
Pulling with all his strength, Louis Guimont dragged the woman towards him and managed to get her out of the water down to her waist. He was amazed to find that she was wearing skis and carrying ski poles. After more strenuous effort, he was able to pull her from the water. He told her to lie on the ice to avoid breaking it, while he removed her ski equipment.
Next, he dragged her to the shore, helped her to her feet and supported her as they climbed the escarpment to his house. The woman repeatedly asked to be put into a hot bath, but Louis Guimont's wife call 811 and was told by the nurse that this could cause cardiac arrest. The Guimonts gave the woman dry clothes to wear and watched over her for almost three hours, before driving her to her friends' house.
The daring, well-planned actions of Louis Guimont saved the victim from a horrific death by drowning beneath the ice on the St. Lawrence.
In the "fire" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Yann-Éric Beaumont, Sherbrooke
On November 16, 2014, Yann-Éric Beaumont was woken at 5 a.m. by his aunt, in the house where he lived with her. A fire was burning out of control two houses away. Immediately, without even taking the time to dress warmly, Yann-Éric ran outside in his bare feet.
Flames and dense smoke were pouring from the neighbours' house, and Yann-Éric could hear voices shouting for help. He called 911 while standing in front of the burning house. A man and a woman were trapped at the back of the house. The fire had caused an electricity pole to collapse on the left, making that side of the house dangerous.
To get round to the back on the other side, Yann-Éric crossed the neighbouring yard and, with his shoulder, broke through a wooden fence. He was now closer to the couple, who were standing on their rear gallery. A fence around part of their yard prevented them from escaping. They were surrounded by flaming obstacles that threatened to cause the nearly barbecue and propane bottle to explode at any time.
Yann-Éric returned to his aunt's house to put on shoes and dress quickly. Next, he ran through an obstacle course of burning objects to reach the couple, who were now choking on the smoke. Yann-Éric asked the man to bring a stepladder, which he leaned against the fence. In a firm voice, he told them to move immediately. One after the other, they climbed the stepladder and jumped down on the other side.
Yann-Éric told them to shelter at a neighbour's house while they waited for assistance. Yann-Éric himself went to direct traffic away from the street for safety's sake while warning the other neighbours. An explosion in the yard of the burning house sent debris from the barbecue and gas bottle flying in all directions.
Thanks to his determination and cool approach, Yann-Éric Beaumont reacted quickly to an emergency and saved the lives of two people.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Rémi Faucher, Sainte-Marie de Beauce
Early in the afternoon of November 28, 2014, Rémi Faucher was walking to the community centre where he usually played bridge. On the way he noticed a bare-chested man wearing beach shoes, who appeared incoherent. As he drew closer, he asked the man if everything was alright. The man threatened him with a pointed metal bar, and Rémi Faucher kept his distance as he walked quickly to the parking lot of the community centre.
Rémi Faucher recognized one of the cars belonging to a fellow bridge player. He moved closer and told his friend what had just happened. Since he had no cellphone to call the police, Rémi Faucher got into the car and the two bridge players kept watch on the man, who was now walking on the street behind the community centre, library and elementary school.
So as not to lose sight of the man, Rémi Faucher and his companion moved the car forward to the gateway behind the community centre. From there they watched as the man attempted to get into the school through a locked door. He then retraced his steps and began to head for the community centre, where he rushed at an elderly citizen near the door. The victim did his best to protect himself.
Seeing what was happening, Rémi Faucher jumped out of the car and ran towards the assailant. He grabbed him by the neck and managed to throw him to the ground. His companion ran up and helped him immobilize the man. The victim was now free and called the police. A patrol arrived 20 minutes later, since many officers were busy at the scene of a fire and a previous physical assault.
Rémi Faucher later learned that both these misdeeds were the work of the man he had brought under control.
Rémi Faucher followed his instincts and demonstrated great bravery in facing up to a delirious armed man.