2006 Award Recipients (for actions in 2004)
On February 13, 2006, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 25 persons in recognition of their acts of good citizenship in 2004. 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, Yvon Marcoux, who awarded 11 medals and 14 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 22th 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:
Jonathan Hudon, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
On March 30, 2004, at around 3 p.m., Jonathan Hudon had just arrived home on route Des Patriotes, Richelieu, when he heard a strange sound coming from outside. Looking out the window, he saw a car sail into the rivière Richelieu river. He ran across the road, down the hill to the river and jumped into the water. The driver of the car, who was not wearing a seat belt, was trying to exit the car by the front passenger door. He was calling for help as the car was slowly sinking into the icy water.
Jonathan could not open any car door despite several attempts to do so. He asked Marc-André Ostiguy for help. The young bystander finally opened the passenger door and together he and Jonathan pulled Rémi Mireault out of his vehicle and brought him to safety on the river bank.
Alexi Lareau, Chambly
On the afternoon of July 31, 2004, Alexi Lareau, a 16 year-old strong swimmer, was swimming in two-metre high waves, 200 metres from the Piste-à-Villa beach, Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Marie-Anne Arseneau was also swimming there. Suddenly, she was dragged out by a wave to a distance where she could not touch bottom. Realizing that Ms. Arseneau was in trouble, the young man swam to her. Against the current, he started to pull her toward the shore, but the undercurrents pushed them further out, the waves were breaking over them and the tide was rising. Alexi was tiring and a few times had to let go of Ms. Arseneau so that he could rest. As they were able to get closer to the shore, they were helped at last by four people who formed a chain to pull them to safety. The thirty-minute test of courage seemed to last for an eternity.
Julie Lethiecq, Mont-Saint-Hilaire and Thérèse Tousignant-Gagnon, Sainte-Françoise (posthumously)
On the afternoon of August 5, 2004, at around 2 p.m., Julie Lethiecq was at her father's cottage in Deschaillons-sur-Saint-Laurent. When her young neighbour came to tell her that her grandmother was drowning while trying to save her younger brother, Ms. Lethiecq raced to the beach a hundred metres from her cottage. From the shore, she could see that, about twenty metres further out, the body of Thérèse Tousignant-Gagnon was floating away, while a small boy of five was hanging on to it like a buoy.
Julie Lethiecq ran into the water fully dressed. When she reached the two, the boy was still clinging to his grandmother's body and refused to let go. Encouraged by the boy's father, Ms. Lethiecq grabbed the boy and started to pull him and his grandmother back to the shore. Half-way there, exhausted and breathless, she sank underwater three times. She was finally able to pry the child from his grandmother and to stand up as her feet eventually touched bottom. She handed the child over to his father. Alain Gendron, who had come to the rescue, dove into the water and pulled Ms. Tousignant-Gagnon to the shore. The attempts to revive her failed and her death was confirmed.
Paul Luca, Montréal
On the afternoon of June 6, 2004, Paul Luca and his son were fishing off a bridge overlooking the Hydro-Québec spillway, behind La Visitation church in Montréal.
Mr. Luca noticed a boy of six or seven playing near the shore. As he leaned over, the young boy fell into the water. His father quickly jumped into the water and drew him close. However, Mr. Luca saw that the father could not swim and was in serious trouble. He raced to the shore thirty feet away, jumped into the water and grabbed the boy just as the father was pulled away by the current, which was very strong at that spot. He tried to hold him by the arm, but could not. With the boy holding on to him, Paul Luca dived a first time to try to save the father. He came up empty handed. After taking the boy to safety, he dived a second time to save the man, but that attempt also failed. The man's body was recovered seven days later in the Rivière des Prairies.
In the "accidents" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Élie Gilbert, Saint-Frédéric
On May 29, 2004, Ovide Poulin and Élie Gilbert were travelling toward Baie James to deliver a prefabricated house, both driving semi-trailers carrying one-half of the house. At around six a.m., a vehicle collided head-on with the truck driven by Mr. Poulin. The impact caused the truck to catch fire and topple over into the ditch. Very quickly, flames engulfed the cab. Although his arm was badly burned, Mr. Poulin managed to pull himself out of the burning wreckage, and collapsed beside the truck.
Although witnesses tried to persuade Mr. Gilbert not to approach the wreckage because the flames were nearing the fuel tank, he ran to the truck and climbed over the engine block, torn out by the force of the impact. He reached Mr. Poulin and dragged him to safety further away. For his bravery, Élie Gilbert received a decoration from the Governor General of Canada in June 2005.
Jorge Larrosa, Montréal
On September 10, 2004, in the early afternoon, Jorge Larrosa was waiting to cross rue University at the corner of De la Gauchetière in Montréal, facing southeast. He saw a black car speeding on University, heading north. Since the light was green, Mr. Larrosa started to cross the street. In front of him, Penelope Walder did the same. The driver of the black car then decided to turn left on De la Gauchetière. At that moment, Mr. Larrosa heard a loud collision. He saw that the black car had hit a delivery truck and was spinning directly toward them. Mr. Larrosa yelled to Ms. Walder to watch out, but she froze. He grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her toward the sidewalk. Unfortunately, he could not avoid getting hit by the out-of-control car, which struck him from behind. The impact threw him up in the air and he collapsed in the street. Jorge Larrosa underwent surgery for multiple fractures in his foot, ankle and left leg. He was hospitalized for a week and convalesced for two months. Since the accident, he has had to walk with a cane and may have to use it for the rest of his life.
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Patrice Bélanger, Rivière-Héva
At the end of the morning on November 26, 2004, Patrice Bélanger and his spouse, Lorraine Brière, were driving toward Rivière-Héva, Abitibi. Suddenly, they saw smoke coming out of the front door of a house on the side of the road. They drove past the house to the residence of Jean-Marie Côté, whom they asked to call the fire department. They then returned to the house on fire. Patrice Bélanger saw that two young women and two children were on the porch, one woman in a state of shock, totally paralyzed, and the other screaming that a child was still in the basement.
Patrice Bélanger ran into the smoke-filled house. He got as far as fifteen feet, but was quickly blinded and choked by the smoke and had to go back outside to catch his breath. He tried twice more to get to the basement, but was unable to do so. On the fourth try, he managed to crawl to the entrance to the basement, and to go downstairs. Groping in the dark, he suddenly felt hair at the tip of his fingers, then clothing and an arm. It was the child. He grabbed the small body, raced back up the stairs and left the house, exhausted.
The two-year-old Michael was unconscious and badly burned. Patrice Bélanger performed artificial respiration and cardiac massage. After a few minutes, the child slowly regained consciousness. The three children were then taken to a neighbour's where they received first aid. Michael was hospitalized for six months in Montréal in the burn treatment unit.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Byron Russell Duguay, Kingston, Ontario
On March 13, 2004, in Port-Daniel, Gaspésie, Byron Russell Duguay was at his father's watching a hockey game when he heard someone knock at the door. He opened it to find Bert Dow, the neighbour, standing on the landing with a rifle in his hand. Dow yelled "I am going to kill him!", and then fired at Byron's father, hitting him in the abdomen. When he saw that his father was still standing up, Byron told him to call 911 while he grabbed Dow's weapon. In the ensuing fight, Dow took out a hunting knife. Byron succeeded in disarming him. Dow ran away to his residence, and Byron returned to see what condition his father was in, as he was lying on the sofa. When the first aid providers arrived, they took charge and drove Byron's father to hospital, where he died during the night.
Rivard Mercier, Montréal
Shortly before midnight on September 10, 2004, Carole Bérard was in bed in her apartment in Rosemont when her ex-spouse, Denis Trahan, broke into the kitchen. Ms. Bérard called out to Rivard Mercier for help, as he was in a room close to hers. The two men had a violent exchange of words which led to a fight and Ms. Bérard called the police. Mr. Trahan escaped before help arrived and Mr. Mercier was taken to a clinic for treatment of the injury to his upper lip.
A few hours later, Mr. Mercier returned home. At 4:38 a.m., Mr. Trahan broke into the apartment again. This time, he managed to get to Ms. Bérard's room and stabbed her in the abdomen twice. Coming to her rescue, Mr. Mercier was also stabbed twice in the ribs before Mr. Trahan finally fled the apartment. Mr. Mercier and Ms. Bérard spent two days at Montréal General Hospital.
Alain Parent, Laval (posthumously)
On August 27, 2004, at around 11:30 p.m., Réjean Royer, the owner of a camping ground at Lac du Repos, Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Rouville, was busy with his son-in-law, Steeve Villeneuve, unplugging a septic tank. André Lalonde, a camper, was helping them to steady the ladder to climb down into the tank. Mr. Villeneuve climbed down and succeeded in unplugging the tank. A very powerful odour of hydrochloric acid immediately filled the air and a few seconds later, Mr. Villeneuve collapsed at the bottom of the tank.
Mr. Royer asked Mr. Lalonde to go get help. When he returned, he saw that Mr. Royer had fallen into the tank. He called for help and two other campers, Sébastien Tremblay and Gino Deroy, came running. Wanting to help the two men in the tank, Mr. Tremblay climbed down the ladder and immediately lost consciousness. Fortunately, with Mr. Lalonde's help, Mr. Deroy was able to bring him out of the tank and revived him using CPR techniques.
Meanwhile, Alain Parent and Marc Potvin arrived. Without thinking of the danger, they also climbed down into the tank to help the two men at the bottom. They immediately lost consciousness. Four men were now lying at the bottom of the tank. Shortly thereafter, firemen arrived at the scene. With great difficulty, they brought up the bodies of Mr. Royer, Mr. Villeneuve, Mr. Parent and Mr. Potvin. Only Mr. Potvin survived the accident.
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:
Louis Trudeau, La Présentation and Alain Arsenault, Sainte-Catherine
On September 27, 2004, Alain Arsenault and Louis Trudeau were having dinner on the terrace of a restaurant on boulevard Saint-Luc in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, when they heard a loud collision. They turned to see a car flying through the air. The two men decided to go see what had happened. The car was at the bottom of a ditch and the driver was unconscious. Suddenly, there was an explosion and flames darted from the hood of the car. Mr. Arsenault and Mr. Trudeau tried several times to pull the driver out of the car, but were unable to, hindered by his weight and the seat belt that was still fastened. A second explosion occurred and heavy white smoke penetrated the vehicle. Mr. Arsenault climbed in through the driver's window and undid the seat belt. The two men pulled the driver free just before flames engulfed the car. With the help of witnesses, they carried the young victim fifty feet away from the burning car and stayed with him until help arrived.
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Florin Mircea Deac, Montréal
On April 3, 2004, Florin Mircea Deac was having dinner at his apartment home, on boulevard Joseph-Renaud, in Montréal, when Vasile Palerma, a neighbour, told him that smoke was seeping into his bathroom and seemed to be coming from the adjoining apartment. Immediately, Mr. Deac went upstairs to the second floor where Mr. Palerma was waiting for him in front of the smoky apartment. Because his wife is the janitor of the building, Mr. Deac had a master key with which he was able to open the door after which a cloud of smoke filled the corridor.
Crawling because of the smoke, Mr. Deac was able to reach the door of the kitchen, where he could see flames licking the side of the stove. He quickly ran out to get a fire extinguisher, as did Mr. Palerma. In the corridor, people were alarmed and running in every direction after hearing the fire bell.
Mr. Deac and his neighbour emptied their fire extinguishers on the flames before getting out, choked by the smoke. After recovering, Mr. Deac went back into the apartment a third time and was able to open a door to let fresh air in. He went back out into the corridor, and after the fourth entry, he discovered Claire Lavigne, lying unconscious near the kitchen counters. Mr. Deac talked to the victim, who was moaning. Firemen then arrived and took charge of Ms. Lavigne.
Daniel Gagnon and André Duhamel, Terrebonne
On December 24, 2004, at around 1:30 a.m., Daniel Gagnon, a blue collar worker from Montréal, was operating a salt spreader when he noticed a lightly dressed woman, who was injured, standing on the stairs of a house on rue Shaughnessy in Montréal. Seeing that the residence was on fire, he contacted the City. One of his colleagues, André Duhamel, heard the call and being on snow removal duty nearby, decided to go to the reported address. Daniel Gagnon, meanwhile, had begun to evacuate the apartment adjacent to the burning residence. He yelled "fire" but as no one answered, he assumed it was empty.
Mr. Duhamel tried to enter the burning apartment, but the smoke was too thick. So he decided to climb the stairs that lead above the apartment. He then noticed that there was no door. He knocked on the windows to notify the occupants in case they were inside. As he was going downstairs, he found a door leading to Monique Paquette's apartment. After breaking the door down, he accompanied Ms. Paquette outside and made sure she was safe. At that moment, the firemen arrived. Mr. Gagnon continued to evacuate the neighbouring three-storey building, while Mr. Duhamel went to retrieve Ms. Paquette's two cats that were still in the apartment.
Richard Gagnon, Drummondville
On December 9, 2004, at around 9:30 p.m., Richard Gagnon was driving with his spouse along rue Notre-Dame, in Drummondville, when he saw a cloud of smoke coming out of a two-storey apartment building. Arriving at the building, he saw Benoît Binette on the porch, surrounded by a cloud of smoke. He saw that Mr. Binette's hair was burned and that his back was on fire. Mr. Gagnon pulled the elderly man to him and rolled with him on the ground as the ground-floor windows exploded from the heat of the fire.
After he had brought Mr. Binette to safety, Mr. Gagnon asked whether there were other persons in the building, only to learn that an elderly woman resided on the second floor. Mr. Gagnon returned to the front of the two-storey building, climbed the staircase to the second floor and was trying to knock down the locked door when the occupant, an elderly woman of about 80, opened it. Mr. Gagnon helped Ms. Samson down the stairs to safety. The firemen and the police arrived about ten minutes later.
Patrick Larivière, Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu
On March 10, 2004, at the end of the day, Patrick Larivière had finished his work shift when he noticed a man standing on top of the tank of a truck carrying tar. A few seconds later, there was a whistling sound, followed by a loud explosion. Mr. Larivière saw a fireball leap some twenty feet into the air above the truck. The man who had been on top of the tank became a human torch and was thrown to the ground. After asking for someone to call 911, Mr. Larivière ran toward the man who was engulfed in two to three-foot flames.
Mr. Larivière covered the man with his coat and told him to roll over on the ground to smother the flames. Once the fire was extinguished, he saw that the victim's head and arms were blackened by the smoking tar, his legs were discoloured by the heat and his clothes were burned. A policeman arrived on the scene and took charge. Falling into a coma on his arrival at the hospital, the victim died thirteen days after the accident. Mr. Larivière visited him in hospital on a number of occasions.
Régis Lévesque, Neufchâtel
On April 23, 2004, at around 2 p.m., Régis Lévesque, an auto body repairman, was working in his garage when he heard an explosion. He ran to the window in time to see part of the neighbour's house collapse in a cloud of dust. He yelled to his fellow workers to call 911 before running outside. A woman in a state of shock told him that there was a man on the second floor. At that moment, flames appeared in the roof section and at the top of the walls of the residence.
That was when he noticed Daniel Guay, dazed and standing in a doorway leading nowhere, the balcony and the staircase having been blown off in the explosion. Mr. Lévesque does not remember how he did it, but he was able to climb up to Mr. Guay, grab him and throw him on his shoulder to climb down to safety. A few seconds later, the whole house was on fire. The building burned to the ground.
Jonathan Papineau, Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon
In the afternoon of August 6, 2004, Jonathan Papineau was at home in Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon when he noticed smoke coming out of a residence for the elderly known as Second Bonheur. He ran to the residence and tried to enter a side door. A cloud of smoke immediately billowed out and forced him to go to the front of the building, where he found an attendant in a state of panic who informed him that some persons were still inside the building.
Mr. Papineau entered the building and came back out quickly with an elderly woman on his arm. He went back a second time. Because the smoke was hanging four feet from the ground, he had to walk along the corridor stooped over. He saw a man trying to climb out of a window and pushed him outside. By then, he was choking and had to go back outside. There, he asked a passer by to help him and for the third time, entered the building with the passer by. By then, they had to crawl along the floor because the smoke was close to the floor. Mr. Papineau knocked on the doors he could find, but got no answer. Because the fire was spreading, the two men had to leave the building. As soon as he got out, Mr. Papineau tried to go back into the building a fourth time through the back door. The smoke and heat forced him to give up. Seeing that there were rooms in the basement, he knocked on the windows. Despite his efforts, two residents died in the fire.
Stéphane Poitras, Brossard and Ron Taylor, Greenfield Park
Going to work in the morning of May 19, 2004, Ron Taylor noticed that flames were coming out of the basement of a building at 6030, rue Alphonse in Brossard. He immediately asked a passer by, Stéphane Poitras, to call 911. Shortly thereafter, a car stopped in front of the three-story building. Yelling "Mother! Mother!", the driver of the car informed Mr. Poitras and Mr. Taylor that her mother lived on the second floor. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Poitras climbed the stairs to the second floor, where Mr. Taylor knocked open the door, while Mr. Poitras stayed in contact with the 911 operator. Mr. Taylor saw an elderly woman in front of him holding her handbag under her arm. He took her by the waist and pulled her out of the apartment. The two men carried the woman down the stairs in their arms. The firemen arrived shortly after and took charge.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Lucie Bélanger, Québec
On August 9, 2004, after work, Lucie Bélanger was out walking her dog behind her home. All of a sudden, she heard shouts coming from next door, then saw her neighbour Christian Dussault in a panic being chased by a man armed with a knife. Mr. Dussault told Ms. Bélanger that the man had stabbed his spouse, Sophie Lévesque. Ms. Bélanger shouted to her spouse to call 911 and went to look for Ms. Lévesque who was lying on the grass in front of the house. Just as she was going to help her, the assailant appeared and tried to grab Ms. Lévesque. He dropped his knife and Ms. Bélanger grabbed it and threw it far away. After getting to shelter in the house, Ms. Bélanger and Ms. Lévesque locked the door and barricaded themselves in a bedroom. They were still there when they learned that the assailant had been arrested. Ms. Bélanger's composure probably saved Ms. Lévesque' life.
Germain Couture, Thetford Mines
On the night of February 3, 2004, Germain Couture, Clément Labonté and Dominique Brousseau were working on level 206 of the Agnica Eagle mine in Preissac, Abitibi-Témiscaminque. Mr. Brousseau and Mr. Labonté were loading explosives into holes previously drilled for that purpose. Mr. Couture was tidying up. Suddenly, there was a loud blast. A heavy metal plate hit Mr. Labonté in the head and instantly killed him. Mr. Brousseau was injured and called for help. Mr. Couture immediately went to his side despite the toxic fumes. In spite of his injury, Mr. Brousseau could walk and the two men moved toward an air vent. They were finally able to get to the surface. Mr. Couture was awarded the Medal for Bravery by the Governor General of Canada in February 2005 for assisting Mr. Brousseau.
Michel Talbi, Montréal
At 4 a.m. on October 4, 2004, in Montréal, Maude Pelletier was awakened by childrens' cries from the apartment beneath hers. She asked her husband, Michel Talbi, to go see what was happening. He discovered the neighbour's daughter outside in tears with blood on her hands.
The door of the apartment was locked and he was forced to break it down. He came upon a fight between the neighbour and his brother. Mr. Talbi jumped on his neighbour to neutralize him and asked the brother to restrain him. The brother then told him to go see what had happened in the back room. Mr. Talbi found a fifty-year-old woman who was bleeding but still alive.
Mr. Talbi examined the woman and found seven injuries, one of which was to the carotid artery and another to the back of her head. The 911 operator gave him instructions to help him save the victim's life and recommended that he wait for the first aid providers. Two policemen later arrived on the scene and took charge of the situation. They arrested Mr. Talbi's neighbour. The woman died from her injuries in the morning of October 4, 2004.