12 Canadians awarded Medal of Bravery

By Mike Barber, Canwest News Service November 23, 2009

OTTAWA Twelve Canadians were proclaimed on Monday as recipients of one of the nation's highest honours of courage the Medal of Bravery.

The medal, which has been awarded annually since 1972, "recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances." Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean will present the awards in a ceremony on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, whose royal cipher is engraved on the silver medals.

Const. Bryant Wood, a 17-year veteran of the Port Hope, Ont., Police, will also receive a Star of Courage, which "recognizes acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril," for his efforts in saving six people from two fires.

He found out about his honours and the new initials he gets to add after his name, M.B. and S.C. about a month ago.

"I was pretty excited, to say the least," said Wood, 41. He said that he expects the ceremony at Rideau Hall to be held sometime between February and April next year.

On Sept. 8, 2006, Wood responded to a fire at a Port Hope, Ont., home, where he spotted a man lying unconscious in a doorway. After ushering him to safety, the family's dog darted back into the fire, an eight-year-old boy chasing after the pet into the house, smoke billowing out its windows.

"Basically what's going through your mind is that you're about to see somebody die," said Wood. "It's a pretty hard thing to put on you in a blink of an eye. You don't know how you're going to react until those things occur. Some people freeze, some people fight, some people flee."

Wood ran back into the burning building, and located both the boy at the time, Wood had a son the same age and his dog in the living room. He carried the pair outside, an effort for which he will receive the Medal of Bravery.

Wood earned his Star of Courage for his work in another fire nearly a year to the day after the first.

On Sept. 9, 2007, he again responded to a fire in Port Hope. The front and rear entrances to the home were blocked by flames, so Wood and a colleague opened a window, entered, and extracted a man and two women from the embers.

A third woman, however, refused to leave without her cat. Wood went back into the house, found the woman in an upstairs bedroom, and despite her protests, managed to get her out of a second-floor window before the house collapsed.

Wood credited his actions to a combination of luck of instinct, and added that any of his colleagues would have done the same.

"If you're not willing to put your life on the line, you shouldn't be wearing a uniform," he said. "There's a lot of other people that I work with that do great work as well, so I don't want this to overshadow the stuff they've done as well."

Wood and the other recipients join nearly 2,500 others who wear the Medal of Bravery.

The other recipients are:

Jimmy Victor Beardy and Paul Linklater of Thompson, Man., for rescuing two children from a burning house;

Const. Patrick Benoit of Kingston, N.S., for rescuing a truck driver after a fiery crash;

Ryan Sterling Burry of St. John's, N.L., for rescuing his aunt and daughter after they fell through ice while snowmobiling;

Elaine Dare of Port Loring, Ont., for rescuing two members of her snowmobiling party who fell through ice;

Frederic Dufresne of Trois-Rivieres, Que., who pushed a small boy out of the way of an oncoming logging truck;

Kimberly Friesen of Quesnel, B.C., for saving a boy who had fallen off his bike into a rushing river;

Gillian MacAulay of Trenton, N.S., for dragging two drowning teenagers to safety;

Sylvain Joseph Marcoux of Montreal for stopping a convenience story robbery and assault;

Const. Sean Ralph and Const. Alain Rochette, both of Ottawa, for attempting to rescue a woman from a man wielding a hunting knife.

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