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Media Advisory: Governor General Honours Remarkable Canadians

Press Release

April 23, 2019

OTTAWA—Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, will present honours to 39 recipients during a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Thursday, April 25, 2019, at 10:30 a.m.

Recipients will be recognized for their excellence, courage or exceptional dedication to service with one of the following honours: a Meritorious Service Decoration (Civil Division), a Decoration for Bravery or the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

A schedule of the ceremony, the recipients’ citations and background information on the types of honours being presented are attached.


Media interested in covering the ceremony are asked to confirm their attendance with the
Rideau Hall Press Office and to arrive at the Princess Anne Entrance no later than
10:15 a.m. on the day of the ceremony.

Media information:

Josephine Laframboise
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-668-1929 (cell)


10 a.m.:
Media start to arrive at Rideau Hall

10:30 a.m.:
Ceremony begins
The Governor General speaks
The Governor General presents the honours

11:45 a.m.:
Interviews with recipients



Lieutenant Colonel Henry Chaim Gourdji, M.S.C., C.D. (Retired)
Beaconsfield, Quebec

Henry Gourdji has had a sweeping impact on air navigation safety as a senior official with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. His creative approach to expanding the organization’s oversight program and his ability to forge partnerships among ICAO’s member states have augmented safety procedures around the world and have enhanced Canada’s reputation as an international leader in the field of civil aviation.

Michael Paterson, M.S.C.
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Scientist Michael Paterson played the lead role in saving the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a unique research facility composed of 58 lakes and their ecosystems, from closure due to government budget cuts. Thanks to his resourcefulness, the ELA joined the not-for-profit International Institute for Sustainable Development, thereby safeguarding valuable experiments already in progress and continuing its search for sustainable solutions to the world’s water challenges.


Katelyn Bateman, M.S.M.
Kirkland, Quebec

Katelyn Bateman founded Collège Amélioration Jeunesse, a primary school for Haitian youth residing in the Dominican Republic. Since its inception, she has shared her time between raising funds in Canada and working as the school’s director. Today, Collège Amélioration Jeunesse provides schooling to 140 children from the poorest households of Puerto Plata, changing their lives through quality education.

Diana Christina Beaupré, M.S.M.
Adrian Watkinson, M.S.M.
Canterbury, United Kingdom

Britons Diana Beaupré and Adrian Watkinson created Far From Home, a project that preserves the memory of Canadian Armed Forces members who perished during the First World War and are buried in the United Kingdom. Over the past 10 years, the couple has travelled the country to identify, photograph and record lost or forgotten tombstones of nearly 3 900 servicemen and women. Their meticulous research has inscribed those names onto previously incomplete pages of Canadian military history.

Richard Bennett, M.S.M.
Dieppe, New Brunswick
John Raymond Dallaire, M.S.M.
Robert E. LeBlanc, M.S.M.
Patrick J. O’Brien, M.S.M.
Moncton, New Brunswick

Inspired by a friend who lost a family member to depression, Richard Bennett, John Dallaire, Robert LeBlanc and Pat O’Brien founded Relais trois montagnes, an organization that holds non-competitive relay events in the Moncton area to raise awareness of and funds for mental health programs. Since its inception, the relay has raised over $300,000, contributing to the delivery of much-needed services for youth living with mental illness, their caregivers and the broader community.

M. David Guttman, M.S.M.
Toronto, Ontario
Jack A. Moon, M.S.M.
Georgetown, Ontario

Bladder cancer patients David Guttman and Jack Moon founded Bladder Cancer Canada to provide information about diagnoses, share treatment options and offer resources to patients, caregivers and physicians. Their successful early intervention campaign If You See Red has raised the profile of the disease while their annual awareness walk raises funds for research and the Canadian Bladder Cancer Information System. Their grassroots organization has since become a national network that has been replicated internationally.

The Meritorious Service Medal awarded to Mr. Moon was presented to him at a previous ceremony.

Michelle Sullivan, M.S.M.
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

Michelle Sullivan’s enthusiasm for preserving a scenic corner of Newfoundland is inspirational. As a leading figure in the Brigus Historical and Conservation Society, she has been instrumental in raising funds for the relocation and restoration of a working forge, as well as several other projects that evoke the village’s past and its seafaring heritage. Thanks to partnerships she has built locally and provincially, Brigus continues to charm locals and tourists alike.


Constable Dru Michael Abernethy, M.B.
Rocky Mountain House, Alberta
Constable Leah Russell, M.B.
Fort Vermilion, Alberta

On July 29, 2013, RCMP constables Dru Abernethy and Leah Russell saved several people from a burning retirement home in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. As Constable Russell escorted the first victim out, Constable Abernethy crawled into a blazing unit on the first floor, but was forced back by the extreme heat. Constable Russell re-entered the building, located a woman with mobility issues and carried her outside. Both constables then met up on the second floor, where they each entered separate, smoked-filled units to rescue additional victims. They were able to evacuate half of the residents from the home before the fire department arrived on scene. Sadly, one of the victims did not survive.

Michel Denis Bourbonniere, M.B., M.S.M.
Winnipeg, Manitoba

On December 4, 2016, Mitch Bourbonniere rescued a distressed teenaged girl from the Assiniboine River, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Arriving on scene, he saw the victim in the middle of the river, drifting downstream with the current. With several bystanders holding onto one end of a rope, he grabbed the other end and started making his way out to the woman. As he felt his body go numb from the freezing water, he urgently called to the victim to swim towards him. The sound of his voice caught her attention and she began swimming towards him. Mr. Bourbonniere grabbed the hood of her sweater with one hand while holding onto the rope with the other. They were then pulled safely to shore by bystanders.

Daniel Desrochers, M.B.
Thunder Bay, Ontario

On February 18, 2017, Daniel Desrochers rescued a man from a burning apartment in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Woken up by the sound of the fire alarm, Mr. Desrochers realized his neighbour’s apartment was on fire. He kicked the door three times, screaming out for his neighbour, who had limited mobility and was trapped in the unit. On the third attempt, the door flew open, but Mr. Desrochers quickly had to retreat from the heavy, black smoke. Hearing a faint moan, he crawled towards the sound and found his neighbour lying on the floor. He then successfully pulled the man to safety.

Brian Dittmar, M.B.
Steve Prior, M.B.
Gore Bay, Ontario

On April 1, 2017, Brian Dittmar and Steve Prior rescued a man whose all-terrain vehicle had fallen through the ice in Julia Bay-Lake Huron, Ontario. Messrs. Dittmar and Prior grabbed a rope and a roof rake and made their way to the scene of the accident. The men each tied an end of the rope around their waists before they started walking across the ice towards the victim, some 150 metres from shore. Mr. Dittmar tried to lift the victim out of the water with the rake, but fell through the ice himself. He grabbed the victim by the hood and, with the help of Mr. Prior, was able to get himself and the man back out onto the ice. They then dragged the victim towards the shore, where a bystander helped them load the man onto another ATV. Mr. Dittmar then drove the victim to an awaiting ambulance.

Don McNeice, M.B.
Richard Pick, M.B.
Sandspit, British Columbia

On July 15, 2014, Don McNeice and Richard Pick’s float plane crashed on Cheney Point in the Seaforth Channel, in British Columbia. As fire broke out on the aircraft, Mr. Pick quickly unfastened one injured passenger and pulled him out. Realizing the pilot was still trapped in his harness, Mr. Pick and Mr. McNeice hurried to remove him from the wreckage before the plane was completely engulfed in flames. Mr. Pick and Mr. McNeice provided first aid to the victims while nearby boaters contacted first responders.

Juergen Baetzel, M.B.
Gray Creek, British Columbia
Brant Hannah, M.B.
Calgary, Alberta
Paul Hindson, M.B.
Crawford Bay, British Columbia
Tobias MacDonald, M.B.
Delta, British Columbia
Carol VanRuymbeke, M.B.
Crawford Bay, British Columbia

On August 20, 2014, Juergen Baetzel, Paul Hindson, Tobias MacDonald, Carol VanRuymbeke and firefighter Brant Hannah pulled two individuals from a burning plane that had crashed in Crawford Bay, British Columbia. The small aircraft burst into flames on impact. Despite the rapidly escalating fire, the rescuers worked together to successfully free the victims from the wreckage, minutes before an explosion occurred. Sadly, one of the victims did not survive.

The decorations awarded to Mr. Baetzel, Mr. Hannah, Mr. Hindson and Mr. MacDonald were presented to them at an earlier ceremony.

Kaden Clouston, M.B.
Mackenzie Terrance Vatter-Martineau, M.B.
Calgary, Alberta

On March 25, 2017, Kaden Clouston and Mackie Vatter-Martineau helped people escape a burning strip mall in Calgary, Alberta. Spotting smoke from across the street, Mr. Vatter-Martineau entered the three-storey strip mall and started knocking on windows and doors to alert the occupants to the fire. As he was evacuating a woman, they became trapped on a balcony by the fire. He held onto the railing with one hand and lowered the woman down so she could safely drop to the ground below. At that point, Mr. Clouston entered the building, warning tenants on the second level on his way to the third storey. He found two people in a unit and convinced them to evacuate. On his way out, he had to run through smoke and flames to reach the ground level.

The decoration awarded to Mr. Clouston will be presented at a later date.


Chief Warrant Officer Honore Paul Elias Aucoin, M.M.M., C.D. (Retired)
Cheticamp, Nova Scotia

Dedicated to preserving Canada’s military history, Honore Paul Elias Aucoin assisted his Royal Canadian Legion branch in Cheticamp to establish the Veteran’s Heritage Museum Society. He also helped to refurbish the Canadian Military Police Heritage Hall at Canadian Forces Base Borden, and has volunteered since 2006 with the Warriors’ Day Parade Council.

Suzanne de Courville Nicol
Calgary, Alberta

Suzanne de Courville Nicol is a pillar of the Calgary Francophone community, promoting linguistic duality and working collaboratively since 1990 with the Alberta 3 Region Métis Nation. For the past 50 years, she has promoted French culture in Canada, volunteering with organizations such as the Association canadienne française de l’Alberta, the Société franco-canadienne de Calgary, the Bureau de visibilité de Calgary and the Réseau en immigration francophone de l’Alberta.

Bethany R. Downer
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

In 2014, Bethany Downer founded One Step Shoe Recycling, which collects thousands of pairs of footwear from across Canada and redistributes them around the world. Combining community involvement, sustainability and social justice, she has encouraged environmental engagement while helping those in need.

Katie Heggtveit
Toronto, Ontario

Katie Heggtveit is passionate about health and fitness. Through her program Bootcamps for Change, she encourages disadvantaged youth to use fitness as a path to wellness, empowerment and success. She has also volunteered with the Trek for Teens Foundation and Reaching Up.

Master Corporal Richard Le Sueur, C.D. (Retired)
Edmonton, Alberta

An active member of the Kiwanis Club, Richard Le Sueur has served on its executive at the local, provincial and national levels. He has also been involved in the Edmonton Heritage Festival for the past 15 years, serving in various executive roles on the board, mentoring others and leading by example.

Lieutenant(N) Pierre Lefebvre, C.D.
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec

Pierre Lefebvre is dedicated to causes related to youth and veterans. He volunteers with several not-for-profit organizations in the community, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program, the Royal Canadian Legion and the Knights of Columbus.

Devon Liscum
Jeremy Liscum
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Brothers Devon and Jeremy Liscum started the Mission to Mexico project following a family trip to Mexico in 2006. With the help of their classmates and teachers, they have collected school supplies and raised funds to support educational programs in the poorest communities surrounding Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Johnny May
Kuujjuaq, Quebec

Every Christmas morning, for over 50 years, Johnny May has flown his airplane over his hometown, dropping candies and gifts along the way. Year after year, he inspires a sense of hope and happiness among those in his community, who see him as a hero.

Maya Maria Mikhael
Windsor, Ontario

At the age of six, Maya Mikhael created Maya’s Friends to coordinate youth-run events to feed the hungry and homeless in the Windsor-Essex region. Since 2012, her annual lemonade stand has amassed canned goods and thousands of dollars for local food banks. Through other initiatives like charity walks, she has raised awareness of and financial support for the sick, the elderly and the poor.

Daniel Ouellet
Lac Baker, New Brunswick

Daniel Ouellet is passionate about judo and has been a volunteer instructor with the Bushido de Clair Judo Club since he founded it in 1991. He has trained more than 500 youth in judo, with his club serving as both a centre for physical exercise and a social gathering point for teens living in rural New Brunswick.

Réginald Pierre
Montréal, Quebec

For nearly 15 years, Réginald Pierre has been volunteering with the St. Michel Soccer Association as a coach and referee of youth from lower-income neighbourhoods, many of them new Canadians. He also spends time with seniors, and frequently takes them shopping and drives them to appointments.

Ravy Por
Montréal, Quebec

Ravy Por is proud of her Cambodian heritage and volunteers with several organizations such as the Festival Cambodgien, Centre Khemara and the École d’Art Cambodgien to promote Cambodian culture, art and dance. She has also volunteered with several not-for-profit organizations in Quebec, such as Projet Arc-en-ciel, where she organizes fundraising events and sits on the board of directors.

René Rheault
Mirabel, Quebec

René Rheault joined the Canadian Executive Service Organization in 2004, and has positively impacted the lives of partners in Haiti, Senegal, Algeria and Burkina Faso, as well as in Indigenous communities across Canada. He has worked with these partners to develop standardized practices and strengthen institutional capacity, in addition to leading in-house volunteer recruitment efforts in Quebec.

Kenny Shaw
Comox, British Columbia

For more than 40 years, country music singer and comedian Kenny Shaw has raised funds through his performances to support Canadian troops and international disaster victims. He volunteers as a master of ceremonies and performer with the Comox Valley Child Development Association’s annual telethon, which supports children with special needs.

Norene Smiley
Pugwash, Nova Scotia

Norene Smiley is well known for her creativity, innovation and love for new projects. She has been a member of Communities in Bloom since 2007, raising funds to support many local initiatives. She also nurtures young writers through the Writing on Fire Society, which she co-founded in 2013.

David Taylor
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

David Taylor has been the driving force behind the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) for more than 25 years. As the Yellowknife zone commander and the Northwest Territories deputy director, he has recruited, trained and led volunteers in countless search and rescue missions, and has ensured the continuity of CASARA’s operations at the highest possible level.

Sierra van der Meer
Whitehorse, Yukon

As a dedicated leader of the Contagious Mountain Bike Club, Sierra van der Meer has helped people of all ages and abilities enjoy the outdoors through Whitehorse’s trail network. With visionary talent, she has won grants, designed new trails, organized events and created positive community connections through the club.


About the Meritorious Service Decorations

The Meritorious Service Decorations celebrate Canadians who have performed an exceptional deed or activity that brings honour to Canada. The decorations are separated into military and civil divisions, with two levels each: a cross and a medal.

The Civil Division recognizes remarkable contributions in many different fields of endeavour, from advocacy initiatives and health care services, to research and humanitarian efforts. The contributions can be innovative, set an example for others to follow, or improve the quality of life of a community. For more information or to nominate a deserving Canadian, visit

About the Decorations for Bravery

Created in 1972, Decorations for Bravery recognize people who risk their lives and choose to defy their own instinct of survival to try to save a loved one or a perfect stranger whose life is in immediate danger. The three levels of the Decorations for Bravery reflect the degree to which the recipients put themselves at risk: the Cross of Valour recognizes acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril; the Star of Courage recognizes acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril; and the Medal of Bravery recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances. For more information or to nominate a deserving Canadian, visit

About the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers recognizes the remarkable volunteer achievements of Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields. As an official Canadian honour, the Medal pays tribute to the dedication and exemplary commitment of volunteers. For more information or to nominate a deserving volunteer, visit



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