Presentation of Decorations for Bravery
Rideau Hall, Friday, October 28, 2016
Welcome, all of you, to Rideau Hall for this celebration of bravery.
Seeing you here today, I am reminded of the story of “the wrong-way guy,” which is based on a photo that I saw during a visit to Saskatchewan early on in my mandate.
The photo depicted an emergency situation at a school. Students and teachers were streaming out of the building, but one figure—a police officer, whom I like to call “the wrong-way guy”—was going against the tide, heading with purpose towards the danger.
That is what you did—instead of playing it safe, you faced danger head on. And we are all much safer and better off for your willingness to go “the wrong way.”
In this case, “wrong” equalled “right” for many of the victims.
In a moment, we’ll hear each of your stories of bravery—and what stories they are!
They are stories of triumph and tragedy, and of lives saved.
Most of all, they are stories of brave acts by ordinary Canadians in extraordinary situations.
None of you was expecting or even thinking of recognition when you first jumped headfirst into danger. In fact, perhaps thinking had very little to do with what you did. You simply acted, with no regard for your own personal safety and with only one driving force: to protect someone else.
In the last six years, I’ve presented hundreds of these awards, but this moment of recognition has lost none of its lustre. I’m still inspired by the heroism I’ve seen.
You’ve shown compassion for complete strangers. You’ve shown us what love of your fellow citizen truly looks like. And though some stories come to a sad ending, I hope loved ones take some comfort in knowing that their final moments were not spent alone. Hero or victim, we all need to care for one another.
Thank you for what you’ve done. It’s a privilege to honour you with the Decorations for Bravery.