2009 Award Recipients (for actions in 2008)
On November 9, 2009, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 29 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 17 medals and 12 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:
Wayne Chambers, Lachute
In Lachute, in the evening of August 31, 2008, Wayne Chambers and his wife were driving across a bridge over a lake. The bridge parapet was broken, and pieces of wood were floating on the surface of the water.
Illuminating the lake with his headlights, he looked for a submerged car, but could not see anything. He drove his wife back home and then returned to the bridge with a flashlight.
Mr. Chambers entered the water and caught sight of a submerged truck. He immediately swam out, followed by a neighbour and her friend. In the truck was a young, unconscious man. They pulled him from the truck and swam with him to the lakeshore. The two young women carried out reanimation without stopping until the arrival of the emergency services.
Mr. Chambers’ two sons, Oliver and James-Alexander arrived on the scene. They jumped into the water to look for other possible victims, but found nobody.
The emergency services arrived. Only Wayne Chambers had received a superficial injury as he pulled the victim, who unfortunately died, from the truck.
Despite the fatal outcome, the two generations of the Chambers family did everything possible to help the young man, and also to search for other possible victims.
Wayne Chambers will receive the Medal for Good Citizenship, and Oliver and James-Alexander Chambers will each receive an honourable citation for good citizenship.
François Gélinas and Catherine Gélinas-Côté, Shawinigan
On August 31, 2008, François Gélinas and some friends were relaxing on a beach along the Batiscan River in Saint-Narcisse. As the water level in the river rose, two young boys tumbled into the water, where they had to fight the current.
As soon as he saw what had happened, Mr. Gélinas dived into the river and swam towards the boys, about one hundred feet away. The children were still conscious, and he was able to keep their heads above water. However, the current was pulling all three of them towards the waterfall.
Mr. Gélinas realized that he would not be able to get back to the shore with the two boys, so he threw the boys one by one to a woman who was able to catch them and take them to the riverbank.
Mr. Gélinas could no longer fight the current. On the riverbank, his mother and uncle shouted for help, explaining that Mr. Gélinas had heart problems and wore a defibrillator.
Seeing that nobody had moved, Catherine Gélinas-Côté jumped into the water and swam towards her father. She encouraged him to swim while grabbing him under the arms and dragging him back to the bank.
François Gélinas and his daughter Catherine, in turn, accomplished an act of bravery with exemplary presence of mind. They saved three lives.
Wayne Dickson (for the crew of the Madelinot War Lord), Entry Island
On March 28, 2008, in the afternoon, the Madelinot War Lord left Entry Island, in the Magdalen Islands, with three other boats. They were soon trapped in ice.
As night fell an icebreaker arrived to open a route for the three boats until they could continue alone. However, the Acadian II had rudder problems. The captain of the Madelinot War Lord, Wayne Dickson, sailed in front to help the crippled boat, but was soon caught up in the ice again.
Mr. Dickson noticed a leak in his boat’s anti-rolling system. He requested assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard, and the icebreaker Sir William Alexander was dispatched to the scene. It towed the Acadian II, followed by the Madelinot War Lord.
The Acadian II hit two icebergs, mounted the ice, and then capsized.
One man fell into the water. The crew on the Madelinot War Lord managed to haul him aboard, and then a second man. Both were taken to the warmest room on the boat.
The crew of the Madelinot War Lord tried in vain to locate other victims in the water. The Sir William Alexander sent an inflatable dinghy to help the Acadian, and divers later found the bodies of three men. A fourth man was never found.
The next day, the Madelinot War Lord was back in the Magdalen Islands, its crew deeply marked by the death of four of their colleagues.
The Medal for Good Citizenship will be given to each member of the Madelinot War Lord’s subsequently.
In the "accidents" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Nadine Champagne and Danielle Cloutier, Saint-Georges, and Sébastien Mathieu, Beauceville
On October 30, 2008, in Saint-Georges, Sébastien Mathieu was stopped at a red light. Surprised by the noise of a collision, he saw a minivan flip into the air and then fall onto its wheels after being struck by a heavy truck.
Flames were coming from under the hood as Mr. Mathieu rushed towards the scene. A woman with reduced mobility was sitting on the driver’s side. Beside her, her spouse, who was blind, was getting out of the van.
Danielle Cloutier and Nadine Champagne also hurried towards the scene of the accident.
Ms. Champagne escorted the passenger to Ms. Cloutier’s car. In the meantime, Ms. Cloutier was helping Mr. Mathieu to free the woman driver as the fire became hotter. Her seatbelt was stuck, but at last they managed to get her free.
Ms. Cloutier and Mr. Mathieu led the victim to the car as the minivan burst into flames. Mr. Mathieu took up position at the intersection to keep people at a safe distance and direct traffic.
Reassured that everything was under control, Ms. Champagne left the scene. Ms. Cloutier stayed with the couple until the arrival of the emergency services.
This is a good example of what people who do not know each can accomplish, together, in a critical situation. Nadine Champagne, Danielle Cloutier and Sébastien Mathieu could not have done any better had they planned their actions.
Lise-Ann Davignon, Laval
On August 7, 2008, Lise-Ann Davignon was out cycling close to a railway grade crossing at Godmanchester, where a tractor-trailer had just been struck by a train.
The truck had tipped over into the ditch and caught fire. As Lise-Ann Davignon approached, she saw a man covered in blood calling for help. She went to him and realized that his son was trapped in the cab.
As the motor was engulfed in flames, the four-year-old child screamed with fright. Ms. Davignon climbed into the cab, grabbed the youngster and freed him from the twisted metal that prevented him from moving. Carrying the child in her arms, she and the man moved further away from the fire.
At the father’s request, Ms. Davignon looked after the child while the train driver called for help. The emergency services arrived ten minutes later and brought the fire under control, while the victims were taken to hospital.
As if it came naturally to her, Lise-Ann Davignon did everything right to save the child’s life, reassure the father and take them to safety. She showed enormous courage by climbing into a cab that could have exploded at any time!
Guy Lavoie, Saint-Narcisse-de-Rimouski
On July 4, 2008, Guy Lavoie was driving his truck on Highway 20, near Rimouski, followed by a friend in another truck. They stopped at a red light.
Mr. Lavoie heard the sound of a collision behind him, and saw that part of his friend’s truck was on fire. The accident appeared to have been caused by a pile-up.
Grabbing a fire extinguisher, Mr. Lavoie began to fight the fire. He then went back towards the truck that had caused the accident, which was burning at the front end. He emptied one fire extinguisher, and then another, without managing to put the blaze out.
He heard some people shouting that a woman was about to burn inside a car. Mr. Lavoie found her upside down, with her feet on the headrest. She was moaning.
He undid the woman’s seatbelt, and then lifted her carefully out of the car. The rear seat was on fire. They were surrounded by black smoke and exploding tires. Carrying the victim, Mr. Lavoie got away as quickly as he could.
Mr. Lavoie was having difficulty breathing, and moved further away before crouching at the side of the road where he remained with the victim until the ambulance technicians arrived.
The woman’s fate, if Guy Lavoie had not intervened, is not hard to guess. He spared no effort to make himself useful wherever he could on the scene of the accident.
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Alain Campeau, Mont-Laurier
During the morning of April 9, 2008, in the senior citizens’ residence he owned in Mont-Laurier, Alain Campeau heard the sound of a smoke detector.
He immediately went up to the second floor to ask his associate to call 911 and to evacuate everyone who was in the kitchen. After escorting a resident to the stairs, Mr. Campeau directed people outside to a neighbouring building.
Another resident could be seen at her window. Mr. Campeau went back inside using the emergency stairs. Through the thick smoke, he reached the woman’s room and led her to the emergency staircase, before going back for his own mother.
One woman was still missing. Mr. Campeau hurried back inside and got as far as the woman’s room, by staying close to the smouldering walls. He found the woman, but had to feel his way out of the building.
Working tirelessly and at the risk of his own life, Alain Campeau went beyond the call of duty to ensure that all the occupants of the house were safe.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Sébastien Gilbert, Grenville-sur-la-Rouge
In a concrete mixing plant in Saint-Eustache, on November 13, 2008, Jacques Caron was repairing the sand hopper. Suddenly, the conveyor belt feeding the hopper started pouring sand, and Mr. Caron was quickly buried over his head.
At the control panel, Sébastien Gilbert had seen what was happening, and stopped the sand with a remote control. He called Mr. Caron by radio, and when he got no response rushed to the hopper.
Mr. Gilbert lay down on top of the sand and dug with both hands to free the victim’s face. On his radio, he asked a colleague to stop all operations and to come and help him, and then called his supervisor. A tripod was installed so that Mr. Gilbert could attach the victim and pull him from the sand. This did not work, and the supervisor called 911.
While waiting for the emergency services, Mr. Gilbert moved sand away from the victim’s body, as far down as his armpits.
The fire-fighters arrived and helped Mr. Gilbert out of the hopper. It then took them several hours to free Mr. Caron.
Sébastien Gilbert did not hesitate to throw himself down onto the treacherous sand. If he had not reacted as quickly, with perseverance and skill, his colleague would have quickly suffocated.
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.
drowning risksIn the "drowning risks" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Oliver Chambers and James-Alexander Chambers, Lakefield
See the description of the event in the section “Medal for Good Citizenship”
Joël Ducas, Châteauguay
In the evening of July 26, 2008, Luc Laviolette was at his friend Mélanie Landry’s house in Châteauguay. On the floor above, Joël Ducas was in the home of Tatiana Krumpel. Mr. Laviolette went out to get some fresh air on the riverbank when he heard cries for help.
In the darkness, he heard a woman calling out that she was drowning. Mr. Laviolette asked Mélanie Landry, who had joined him outside, to call for help. Then he went to get Joël Ducas, who rushed down to the river.
Luc Laviolette fetched a rowboat and dragged it to the edge of the river, where he launched it. Mr. Ducas jumped in and rowed towards the victim, whose head was out of the water. The two men tried to get her to calm down, and mentioned that Mr. Ducas did not know how to swim.
Joël Ducas caught hold of the woman and helped her grab onto the boat, but her weight stopped the boat moving.
He managed to pull the victim from the water and into the boat. At last, Mr. Ducas was able to row to shore, where his friends helped carry the woman to safety.
By reacting to the emergency in a calm way, Joël Ducas saved the woman from certain drowning, given the turbulence created by a nearby waterfall.
Gérald Larouche and Louison Voyer, Jonquière
In his cottage at Lac-Bouchette, on December 30, 2008, Louison Voyer was getting ready to have supper with his brother-in-law Gérald Larouche, when a neighbour came to tell them that an ATV rider had fallen into the frozen lake.
Immediately, Mr. Voyer and Mr. Larouche got dressed and grabbed lifejackets and a rope. They used a snowmobile to get to the scene of the accident.
The victim was in the water up to his neck, clinging to his ATV. Mr. Voyer moved forward carefully over the ice, while his brother-in-law kept hold of the rope behind him. Mr. Voyer threw the rope to the victim several times, but without success. Then, despite the thin ice, he moved closer.
At last, the rope landed near the victim, who was able to catch hold. The rescuers had to pull hard to get the man out of the water, suffering from hypothermia. Barely had he escaped when the ice cracked again.
Mr. Larouche and Mr. Voyer placed the man on their snowmobile and Mr. Voyer drove back to the cottage while his brother-in-law returned on foot. The neighbours who had raised the alarm helped give first aid.
Louison Voyer and Gérald Larouche showed great courage when they went out onto the thin ice. Their foresightedness and presence of mind made their rescue a success, and prevented the victim from freezing to death.
In the "accidents" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Marc-André Blais and Nicolas Houde, Trois-Rivières and Olivier Houde, Shawinigan
On July 20, 2008, around midnight, Olivier and Nicolas Houde were outside in Saint-Étienne-des-Grès. Hearing a loud bang, they saw a massive object fall into the ditch along the side of the road.
Olivier ran to the scene, followed by Nicolas, who asked his girlfriend to call 911. Two vehicles were compressed into a single mass, with flames coming from under their hoods.
They asked if anyone needed help. The driver of one of the vehicles answered that she was injured and that her two-month-old daughter was with her in the car.
Nicolas and Olivier attempted unsuccessfully to put the fire out with earth. Olivier tried to flag down some passing cars, and one motorist stopped and helped Olivier put out the fire.
Nicolas crawled into the car through the windscreen and kept the woman talking to stop her slipping into unconsciousness. He supported her head, which was injured.
Marc-André Blais arrived on the scene. Hearing the baby crying, he opened the car’s hatchback and emptied the trunk. Then he unfastened the child and removed her carefully from the car.
The fire-fighters arrived and took charge of the baby. It took them another hour to get the young woman driver out of the car.
Georges Langlois, Senneterre
In the evening of November 15, 2008, Georges Langlois and his spouse were returning home to Senneterre when a woman signalled to them to stop. She told them that another car had run off the road into the ditch, and that the children inside were calling for help.
While his spouse called for help, Mr. Langlois ran towards the car, which had overturned in a water-filled ditch. He could hear two children crying through the pitch darkness.
The car doors were locked. Because of the water, Mr. Langlois had to use his car jack to break one of the windows. He groped around inside before catching hold of a girl’s hand, pulling her from the car and taking her up the bank to his car, where his spouse began to warm her up. He then went back to get the other girl.
Mr. Langlois heard the car horn. Realizing that the driver was still alive, he returned to the car with a flashlight.
The driver, in shock, followed the instructions given by Mr. Langlois, and crawled to where he was at the rear of the vehicle. She was suffering from hypothermia, and Mr. Langlois had to half-carry her to his car. She was with her daughters when the emergency services arrived.
In difficult circumstances, in which most people would have simply waited for the emergency services, Georges Langlois completed three successive rescue operations.
In the "fires" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Lélia Griffith-Ross, Baie-Comeau
During the night of May 10, 2008, in Baie-Comeau, Lélia Griffith-Ross was with her father and her friend Vanessa. She went out to get some fresh air, and saw flames behind the window of a mobile home on the other side of the road.
She went in to tell her father and call 911. Back outside, she noticed that the fire had increased in intensity. She asked her father to take care of the burning home, while Vanessa started knocking on the doors of nearby houses.
Lélia went to the home beside the mobile home where the fire had started, protecting herself from the flames and from breaking windows. She knocked on the door several times, shouting until a couple finally answered. As they left to seek refuge in the Ross house, their home went up in flames.
Lélia continued to shout in the street to alert the neighbours. She told them to go to her house, but she only came back inside after the fire-fighters arrived.
The residents of Rue Morel will remember young Lélia Griffith-Ross for a long time. Thanks to her presence of mind, tenacity and courage, she saved the lives of at least two people that night.
Denis Lacombe and Sophie Poirier, Saint-Apollinaire
At dawn on December 18, 2008, Denis Lacombe and Sophie Poirier were out in Saint-Apollinaire. Suddenly, they heard an explosion and saw flames leaping upwards.
As they drew closer, they saw a car close to the highway; in the ditch, a tent was burning. Groans and cries were coming from the tent, from which two legs emerged.
Surprised and frightened, Mr. Lacombe and Ms. Poirier moved forward with difficulty through the deep snow.
The victim was a woman. They dragged her backwards by the feet and laid her on the snow further away. Quickly, they smothered the flames that were engulfing her. The woman was badly burned and in pain, and the couple provided what comfort they could.
Ms. Poirier stopped a passing motorist and asked him to call 911. After doing this, he went with her to the scene of the accident. The three rescuers were able to carry the victim to her car. Mr. Lacombe had to break a window to open the car and place the woman inside while they waited for help.
If Denis Lacombe and Sophie Poirier had not mobilized all their courage and strength, and also their compassion, to help the unfortunate victim, she would have died a painful death.