Const. George J. MacNeil of the Treaty 3 Police Service receives Medal of Bravery from Gov.-Gen. David Johnston Friday at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Const. Miclash Kris Miclash of the Treaty 3 Police Service receives the Medal of Bravery from Gov.-Gen. David Johnston Friday at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

On May 4, 2007, constables George MacNeil and Kris Miclash, of the Treaty Three Police, risked their lives to apprehend an armed man, in Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario. The officers had confronted a man who had been firing a .223-calibre pump-action rifle. Constables MacNeil and Miclash took cover behind their vehicle, while yelling at the attacker to drop his weapon.

Without any concern for the bystanders, the inebriated suspect kept approaching the officers and shot twice at them. During the intense confrontation, the officers, fearing for their lives and for the safety of onlookers, shot at the man, causing him to fall and drop his rifle. The constables then secured the weapon and restrained the injured gunman until an ambulance arrived.

The Decorations for Bravery were created in 1972, to recognize people who risked their lives to try to save or protect the lives of others. The Cross of Valour (C.V.) recognizes acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril; the Star of Courage (S.C.) recognizes acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril; and the Medal of Bravery (M.B.) recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.

Presentation of the Decorations for Bravery

(Speech by the governor general)
Rideau Hall, Friday, February 24, 2012

It is a privilege to welcome you to Rideau Hall today, and to recognize your remarkable acts of bravery.

Let me begin with a story of courage that took place not far from here, many years ago.

The incident occurred at a skating party on the Ottawa River in the winter of 1901. Back then, it was common for people to skate along the frozen river—but on this occasion, two skaters strayed onto thin ice and plunged into the freezing water.

One of them managed to make it to safety, but the other, a young Miss Blair, was unable to pull herself free. A young man named Bert Harper tried to save her, brushing off warnings not to risk his own life in the river with the cry: “What else can I do?”

Moments later, both he and Miss Blair were pulled under by the current.

“What else can I do?” he asked, but of course we know he could have done otherwise. He could have chosen to do nothing. It seems to me that Bert Harper’s last words are a perfect expression of that which flashes through the mind before an act of bravery.

Perhaps each of you asked yourself the same question, consciously or not. Or perhaps there wasn’t time enough for that.

Whatever the case, you set aside your instinct for self-preservation. You were compelled to act, and your actions speak loudly about your character and resolve in the face of danger.

Your bravery is an extraordinary expression of strength, selflessness and courage. Your instinct to help others trumped all else, and that is why we honour you today.

As governor general, I have been inviting Canadians to imagine ways to build a smarter, more caring nation. We have a long history of helping each other in this country, and we must build on this tradition and deepen our consideration and concern for others.

Together, your actions provide us with a remarkable example of caring, one that speaks to our capacity as human beings to rise above narrow self-interest.

I am inspired by your acts of bravery and heroism, and by the impact you have had on the lives and families of those you helped. You remind us that, above all, we make the world a better place by what we do for others.

In Canada, we place great value on helping each other. For a symbol of this, we can look to the Galahad statue erected in 1905 outside the front gates of Parliament Hill, in honour of Bert Harper’s bravery.

It is a fitting tribute to a selfless act, and these decorations for bravery are likewise a symbol of our respect and gratitude for your tremendous courage.

Each of you has truly answered the call to service.

On behalf of all Canadians, thank you.