Parliament Hill security personnel honoured for Oct. 22 bravery
16 RCMP and Hill security guards reminded us human beings 'are capable of the best,' Johnston says
The men and women who protected Parliament Hill against the violent incursion of gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau on Oct. 22, 2014 were honoured by the Governor General at Rideau Hall today.
Sixteen security personnel, a mix of uniformed officers from the RCMP and guards from the Parliamentary Protective Service, received medals for bravery from Gov. Gen. David Johnston nearly 18 months after the attack, in which Zehaf-Bibeau fired several shots inside Parliament's Centre Block before he was killed.
Some of those honoured — RCMP Const. Curtis Barrett, Cpl. Dany Daigle, Const. Martin Fraser, Sgt. Richard Rozon, Const. Louis Létourneau, Const. Samearn Son and former sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers — received the Star of Courage, which "recognizes acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril."
The other security personnel received the Medal of Bravery — RCMP Const. Michelle Bergeron, Const. Gary Bubelis, Const. Somoza Célestin, Cpl. Maxim Malo, Const. Sylvie Marcoux, Const. Michel Palmer, Const. Patrick Ruest and Const. Charles Thom — which recognizes "acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances."
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A somber Gov. Gen. David Johnston thanked the security officials for stepping up in the midst of a chaotic situation, protecting the "hallowed halls" of our democracy only minutes after Cpl. Nathan Cirllio's murder at the War Memorial.
"It was said that Ottawa came to a standstill on Oct. 22 and it's true. People kept off the streets, businesses closed their doors, schools went into lockdown," the Governor General said.
"But not everyone came to a standstill. You didn't come to a standstill, in fact you did just the opposite. You ran toward the danger and you helped people in need," he said.
Johnston acknowledged that some of the officers might be uncomfortable with being celebrated for "just doing their job," but he urged them to accept the gratitude of their fellow Canadians.
"This ceremony isn't about creating heroes or glorifying our security services or exaggerating your achievements on that day ... No one of you asked to be decorated with stars of courage or medals of bravery. Indeed, being good Canadians, it probably makes you more than a little uncomfortable.
"Well, why then are we here? We're here because on a day of great tragedy and suffering you gave us something different. You reminded us that while human beings are indeed capable of doing the worst to each other, we're also capable of the best," Johnston said.
Below is the description of the day's events — and the role each person played — as supplied by Rideau Hall in the citation accompanying the medals. The RCMP's timeline of events has previously been challenged.