When 79-year-old George Bowering fell and nearly stopped breathing, he didn't expect a young girl to be the one to help save his life.

On Monday, he had a chance to meet and thank her at a recognition event held by Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services at City Hall.

In April, 14-year-old Ivy Zhang was walking behind Bowering on her way to the library when "suddenly" she saw him fall. She ran up to see if he was okay and found him unresponsive.

The teen called 911 immediately. She stayed with Bowering and counted his shallow breaths until paramedics arrived.

"I just did what I was supposed to do, what anyone would have done," said Zhang.

To Zhang, Bowering was a stranger, but he is a well-known cultural figure in Canada.

Bowering was Canada's first poet laureate, appointed in 2002, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is also a historian, and is Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University.

Upon meeting Zhang, Bowering said he learned a lot more about his accident. He was grateful she was there and hopes they can build a friendship.

"If she was an orphan, I'd adopt her," laughed Bowering, "It's pretty good. She's going to teach me Mandarin."

Good Samaritans like Zhang along with 13 others were presented Monday with certificates of commendation by Vancouver Fire Chief John McKearney.

They were recognized in the presence of friends, families and city officials including Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.