Governor General of Canada

Governor General of Canada

January 16, 2008 09:09 ET

Governor General Announces the Award of 21 Decorations for Bravery

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 16, 2008) - Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, announced today the awarding of 21 Decorations for Bravery. The recipients will be invited to receive their decorations at a ceremony to be held at Rideau Hall at a later date.

On the recommendation of the Canadian Decorations Advisory Committee
(Bravery), the Governor General has awarded Medals of Bravery to the
following recipients:

Lydia Angiyou, M.B.
Ivujivik, Que.
Clint Antony Avery, M.B.
Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Constable Darren Wayne Barrington, M.B.
Sydney River, N.S.
Constable Melbourne James Birmingham, M.B.(i)
Hillside Boularderie, N.S.
O.P.P. Constable Micheal Edmond Cholette, M.B.
Brockville, Ont.
Master Corporal Brian Michael Decaire, M.B.
Winnipeg, Man.
Steven Murray Flynn, M.B.
Pemberton, B.C.
Cherilyn Patricia Gill, M.B.
Kitchener, Ont.
Constable Ryan George Hutchison, M.B.
Leamington, Ont.
Barry George Kessler, M.B.
Pangman, Sask.
A/Sergeant Wayne MacDonald, M.B. (i)
Hillside Boularderie, N.S.
William Mann, M.B.
Kapuskasing, Ont.
Vincent Lawrence Massey, M.B.
Whistler, B.C.
Alvaro Mejia, M.B.
Toronto, Ont.
Lisette Moar, M.B.
St-Thomas-de-Joliette, Que.
Robin Mole, M.B.
Harrow, Ont.
Theophillios Parusis, M.B.
Toronto, Ont.
Wayne Alton Russell, M.B.
Port Hope Simpson, N.L.
Paul Anthony Skelton, M.B.
Pemberton, B.C.
Sergeant Darcy J.L.J. St-Laurent, S.C., M.B., C.D.
Winnipeg, Man.
Paul Christopher Zakem, M.B.
Charlottetown, P.E.I.

(i) This is a second award of a Medal of Bravery for Constable Birmingham
and A/Sergeant Wayne MacDonald.

The citations for the recipients and a fact sheet on the Decorations for Bravery are attached in annexes A and B, respectively.

Lydia Angiyou, M.B., Ivujivik, Quebec
Medal of Bravery

On February 8, 2006, Lydia Angiyou confronted a polar bear to protect her son and his friends. When she saw the 320 kg bear approaching the boys, Ms. Angiyou ran towards the animal that had wandered in Ivujivik, the small remote village in northern Quebec where she lives. In an attempt to scare it away, she yelled and kicked at it, but the bear swatted her back in the face, knocking her down. Alerted by one of the children, a neighbour rushed to the scene, armed with a rifle. Seeing Ms. Angiyou wrestling with the bear, he fired a few warning shots. The sound diverted the bear's attention from Ms. Angyiou just long enough for the man to fire again and neutralize the animal. Remarkably, Ms. Angiyou only suffered minor injuries during the ordeal.

Clint Anthony Avery, M.B., Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Paul Christopher Zakem, M.B., Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Medal of Bravery

On July 17, 2005, Clint Avery and Paul Christopher Zakem were instrumental in the rescue of three women who were drowning off Blooming Point Beach near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Realizing that the group was being carried by a riptide into deep waters, Mr. Avery charged into the pounding surf to reach the panicking women. Completely exhausted after helping them stay afloat for 40 minutes, he was forced to head back to shore while Mr. Zakem, who had been watching the scene from the beach, swam out to the stranded swimmers with a boogie board. Responding emergency crews, joined by beachgoers, then formed a human chain to carry a rope to the victims, who were then pulled to safety.

Constable Darren Wayne Barrington, M.B., Sidney River, Nova Scotia
Constable Melbourne James Birmingham, M.B.(i), Hillside Boularderie, Nova Scotia
Acting Sergeant Wayne MacDonald, M.B. (i), Hillside Boularderie, Nova Scotia
Medal of Bravery

On October 29, 2004, Cape Breton Regional Police constables Darren Barrington and Mel Birmingham, and then acting Sergeant Wayne MacDonald entered a burning home to rescue an octogenarian, in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. Unable to cross the wall of flames that blocked the front entrance, the rescuers raced around the house and broke through the rear door. Crawling on their hands and knees, constables Barrington and Birmingham located the victim lying on the kitchen floor, a few metres from their entry point. While the officers grabbed the victim by the arms, Sergeant MacDonald pulled them by their belts and guided them outside to safety. Both victim and rescuers suffered from severe smoke inhalation that required medical attention.

This is the second award of a Medal of Bravery for both Constable Birmingham and Sergeant McDonald.

OPP Constable Micheal Edmond Cholette, M.B., Brockville, Ontario
Medal of Bravery

On January 29, 2006, Constable Micheal Cholette rescued a woman from the veranda roof of a house on fire, in Athens Township, Ontario. Constable Cholette was patrolling the area when he heard the calls of the victim screaming for help. Locating the house on fire, he immediately ran to the porch. He climbed up the steel rail banister until he was at eye level with the roof. He then kicked out the porch window and used the frame to boost himself up. After instructing the woman to slide forward until she reached the edge of the roof, he lowered her safely to the ground. Although suffering from smoke inhalation, he then ran into the house twice to look for other victims, but was forced back by the thick smoke and flames. Sadly, the fire claimed the life of the woman's brother.

Master-Corporal Brian Michael Decaire, M.B., Winnipeg, Manitoba
Sergeant Darcy J.L.J. St-Laurent, S.C., M.B., C.D., Winnipeg, Manitoba
Medal of Bravery

On April 26, 2005, search and rescue technicians Master-Corporal Brian Decaire and Sergeant Darcy St-Laurent parachuted from a Hercules aircraft during a blizzard to assist a downed aviator who was stranded west of Boland Lake, in the Northwest Territories. In total darkness, they performed a challenging night landing, farther away than projected from the downed helicopter. Despite being buffeted by the extremely high winds, the rescuers walked for an hour, carrying 50 kg of survival gear on their backs, until they reached the stranded pilot. In the most adverse weather conditions, victim and rescuers waited out the storm until they could be extracted from the site by military helicopter five days later.

Sgt St-Laurent was awarded a Star of Courage for a search and rescue mission in Newfoundland and Labrador, in 1996.

Steven Murray Flynn, M.B., Pemberton, British Columbia
Vincent Lawrence Massey, M.B., Whistler, British Columbia
Paul Anthony Skelton, M.B., Pemberton, British Columbia
Medal of Bravery

On March 5, 2005, helicopter pilot Steven Flynn, search and rescue technician Vincent Massey and mountain rescuer Paul Skelton teamed up to rescue a stranded ice sailor who had broken through the ice on Green Lake, in Whistler, British Columbia. As he drove past the scene, Mr. Flynn soon realized that responding emergency personnel needed assistance and that a helicopter rescue was needed. He rushed to a nearby heliport where he met with Messrs. Skelton and Massey. All three boarded an helicopter and, within minutes, they flew to the scene. While Mr. Flynn performed a precision hover, allowing the craft to get close to the ice, Messrs. Skelton and Massey reached for the hypothermic victim and pulled him safely into the helicopter.

Cherilyn Patricia Gill, M.B., Kitchener, Ontario
Medal of Bravery

On January 10, 2006, Cherilyn Gill risked her life to stop a runaway vehicle on Highway 401, near Toronto, Ontario. Ms. Gill was driving on the busy highway when she noticed, in her rear-view mirror, an out-of-control car drifting across several lanes, its unconscious driver slumped over on the passenger seat. While the runaway vehicle side-swiped the median and continued to speed up, Ms. Gill drove her van in front of the car and deliberately let it crash into hers to slow it down. After the impact, she guided both vehicles to a safer location where she stopped to assist the unresponsive driver. She then remained with the victim until the arrival of police and emergency personnel.

Constable Ryan George Hutchison, M.B., Leamington, Ontario
Robin Mole, M.B., Harrow, Ontario
Medal of Bravery

On August 21, 2005, Constable Ryan Hutchison and paramedic Robin Mole rescued two young girls from drowning in the waters of Lake Erie, in Leamington, Ontario. The two victims, aged 11 and 13, were struggling to stay afloat some 10 metres from shore, unable to swim back due to the strong waves. Alerted to the scene, Mr. Mole grabbed a life ring and dove into the water with Constable Hutchison to reach the girls' side. Swimming against the strong tide, they managed to bring the girls back to the break wall, where they were pulled to safety. Completely exhausted, Mr. Mole was helped back onto the dock, but the strong waves knocked Constable Hutchison back into the water, submerging him numerous times. He was eventually rescued by emergency crews who had arrived at the scene.

Barry George Kessler, M.B., Pangman, Saskatchewan
Medal of Bravery

On August 30, 2004, Barry Kessler rescued a farmer from a fiery death, in Pangman, Saskatchewan. Mr. Kessler was in his field when he noticed smoke at a distance. As he approached the scene, he saw his neighbour slumped over the wheel of his burning tractor. Unable to get near the door due to the flames and heavy smoke, Mr. Kessler climbed onto the back of the machine and broke the cab's rear window. He grabbed the unconscious man under his arms and, after several attempts, managed to pull him out. After placing the victim on the rear fender of the tractor, he climbed down, slid the man onto the ground, and dragged him away to safety, saving the victim's life.

William Mann, M.B., Kapuskasing, Ontario
Medal of Bravery

On February 17, 2006, William Mann assisted an injured man following a multi-car collision during a snow squall on Highway 417, near Limoges, Ontario. Although dazed from the impact of six forceful collisions to his car, Mr. Mann bailed out of the passenger door to seek refuge on the side of the highway, but soon headed back to the crash site to search for survivors. Within the pile of twisted wrecks, he found a man pinned in his car, which was wedged under the back tires of a transport truck. Mr. Mann snaked his way through the wreckage to remove whatever debris he could off of the victim before verifying his vital signs. He crawled under the tractor trailer twice more to provide first aid to the victim until rescue workers arrived and took over.

Alvaro Mejia, M.B., Toronto, Ontario
Theophillios Parusis, M.B., Toronto, Ontario
Medal of Bravery

On November 4, 2005, Alvaro Mejia and Theophillios Parusis rescued a woman who had fallen down onto the subway tracks in Toronto, Ontario. From a distance, the men saw the victim faint and fall headfirst onto the tracks, dangerously close to the electrically charged rails. Without hesitation, Messrs. Mejia and Parusis leapt down to assist the unconscious victim. Helped by bystanders, they lifted her up to safety and jumped back onto the platform, seconds before the train roared into the station.

Lisette Moar, M.B., St-Thomas-de-Joliette, Quebec
Medal of Bravery

On November 20, 2004, Lisette Moar saved her daughter and her niece from a house fire, in St-Thomas-de-Joliette, Quebec. After safely escaping the burning house, Ms. Moar noticed that the children had not followed her outside. Without concern for her own safety, she re-entered the house and, crawling on her hands and knees, located the panicked girls halfway down the staircase. She dragged them downstairs and had almost made it outside when she collapsed. From the doorstep, her husband was able to provide assistance and complete the rescue.

Wayne Alton Russell, M.B., Port Hope Simpson, Newfoundland and Labrador
Medal of Bravery

On January 2, 2006, Wayne Russell rescued a friend whose snowmobile had broken through the ice, in the isolated community of William's Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador. Equipped with a rope, Mr. Russell drove his snowmobile towards his friend, but he too broke through the thin ice, twice. Both times, he managed to steer his machine back onto the frozen surface and kept himself from submerging in the freezing water. He eventually got close enough to throw the rope to secure the victim and to pull him to safety. He then stayed with his friend until a boat came to rescue them both.

Annex B - Fact Sheet on Decorations for Bravery


Decorations for Bravery recognize people who risked their lives to try to rescue or protect another. These decorations were created by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1972. The Governor General personally presents the decorations in ceremonies held at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, or at La Citadelle, in Quebec City. They consist of the Cross of Valour, the Star of Courage and the Medal of Bravery.

The Cross of Valour is awarded for acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.

The Star of Courage is awarded for acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril.

The Medal of Bravery is awarded for acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.


Anyone is free to propose the name of a person who has risked injury or death in an attempt to rescue another person. The incident need not have taken place in Canada, and the rescuer need not be Canadian, but Canadians or Canadian interests must be involved. The decorations may be awarded posthumously.

Nominations must be made within two years of the incident, or within two years after a public entity, including a court, a quasi-judicial tribunal or a coroner, have concluded its review on the circumstances surrounding the incident or act of bravery.

For more information on the Decorations for Bravery and on the recipients of these awards, please visit

Contact Information