British Columbia·Photos

Governor General recognizes exceptional Canadians in Vancouver

Canadians who demonstrated excellence, service or courage were recognized for their achievements at two presentation ceremonies at the University of British Columbia's Chan Centre on Friday.

More than 150 people were recognized for their excellence, service or courage at the Vancouver ceremonies

Canadians who demonstrated excellence, service or courage were recognized for their achievements at two presentation ceremonies at the University of British Columbia's Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday.

The honours were presented by Governor General David Johnston for a wide variety of accomplishments. Many were bestowed to military and police recipients, while many others went to civilians for community service or acts of bravery. 

"It's marvellous," said Johnston. "This was a day we call mixed honours, so there were a number of different honours we were conferring today."

Asked if any of the individuals made an especially strong impression, Johnston highlighted David McGuire, a New Westminster brain injury survivor who was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal with his assistant dog, Jack, at his side.

Meritorious Service Medal recipient and brain injury survivor David McGuire, who ran nearly a marathon a day for nine months as he crossed the country, smiles after a ceremony in Vancouver. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

McGuire ran the distance of a marathon nearly every day for nine months from St. John's to Victoria to raise awareness for brain injuries and prevention. 

"That was a pretty inspiring act," said Johnston. "I said, 'You wore out a few pairs of shoes,' and he said, 'Just a few.'"

McGuire said he was inspired by the Steve Nash movie, Into the Wind about Terry Fox, and yes, he said, he went through a pair of shoes every two or three days along the way.

"I didn't have much else to do," said McGuire, who isn't able to work a regular job. "To be honest, I tried other things. The one thing I can do is run in a straight direction. We sort of joke that the short term memory loss helps, because I just forget that I ran the marathon the day before."

Governor General David Johnston speaks at a ceremony to award honour recipients in Vancouver on Friday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

McGuire's achievement was just just one of many honoured a the event. Morgan Wienberg, 24, was presented with the Meritorious Service Cross for her work in Haiti with her organization, Little Footprints, Big Steps.

"I've established two transitional safe houses to provide transitional housing to those children who we haven't yet reunited with their families," said Wienberg, who first went to Haiti when she was 18 years old, and began working to reunite children with their families soon afterward.

She deferred acceptance at McGill University to work three jobs in Whitehorse as she raised funds to do her work in Haiti.

"It's very easy to be overwhelmed by the issues, by the number of people in need. You know, I've held children in my arms as they've died, I've held four-year-olds who have been raped."

Meritorious Service Cross recipient Morgan Wienberg poses for a photo with Haitian teen Ysaac during a trip to Miami to have Ysaac's tumour removed in 2014. (Morgan Wienberg)

Wienberg said one success story in particular stands out for her, an orphan named Ysaac who's now 16 years old. 

Ysaac had been living on the street in Haiti from the age of nine when he watched his mother die and was rejected by the rest of his family. He suffered from a 13 centimetre tumour on his cheek until Wienberg became his legal guardian and arranged to get him medical treatment in Miami to have the tumour removed.

"I just look at this child and the transformation is incredible," said Wiendberg.

Governor General David Johnston honours 17-year-old Shannon Young with a medal of Bravery at a ceremony in Vancouver on Friday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Many recipients at the ceremonies were honoured for acts of courage with a Medal of Bravery, including Shannon Young, 17, from Kamloops.

When Young was 13 years old, a man entered her house and held her mother hostage for seven hours. 

Young took her sister and sister's friend to safety until the incident was eventually resolved. Her brothers soon joined her.

"It's still a little bit overwhelming," she said after the ceremony. "It kind of just hit me full force and I realized I saved three, four people that day and the fact of that, it just hit me and I almost broke down in the car that day."

A full list of the day's honour recipients can be found on the Governor General of Canada's website.


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