Six NWT residents had their bravery in the face of hazardous situations honoured in Ottawa last week at a ceremony conducted by Governor General David Johnston to award Decorations of Bravery.
The Governor General gave out 42 Medals of Bravery and one Star of Courage at the ceremony held at Rideau Hall last Thursday. Three NWT RCMP officers and three residents of the territory were awarded with medals.
For four of the NWT recipients, that bravery was recognized in connection to a house fire in Inuvik in October of 2011.
The incident occurred early in the morning when Larry Angasuk Jr. from Inuvik and Teddy Omilgoituk from Fort McPherson, 15 and 11 respectively at the time, rushed into the flames to rescue two children trapped in the burning house.
While Angasuk Jr. was able to bring one child to safety, Omilgoituk was overwhelmed with smoke trying to reach his little sister upstairs.
RCMP constables Andrew Aucoin and Todd Glemser were quickly on site and clamoured into the flaming house for the child. While they were able to bring her outside, the little girl later died in the Inuvik Regional Hospital.
The two officers and both boys were each awarded a Medal of Bravery for their actions during the incident.
Cpl. Scott Young was the third RCMP officer to receive a medal in the territory. In 2010, Young swam into the numbing waters of the Slave River’s Rapids of the Drowned outside of Fort Smith to rescue a 23 year-old suicidal woman.
Lutsel K’e resident Sheldon Catholique was the final recipient of a bravery medal. Catholique was honoured for his actions in 2011 after the small passenger plane he was on crashed outside of his home community. Catholique, though suffering from injuries himself, brought a badly injured fellow passenger to a safe distance and cared for her while help was on its way.
GNWT congratulates RCMP officers
Minister of Justice David Ramsay congratulated the three RCMP officers on their Medals of Bravery last week, calling their actions selfless deeds that put the lives of others before their own.
“These fine RCMP officers, through their courageous actions, have demonstrated their commitment to the people they serve in our communities. We are grateful and very proud to have them stationed here in the Northwest Territories,” he said in a press release.
“On behalf of each person in Inuvik, Fort Smith and all our communities whose lives your fearless actions have touched, please accept our heartfelt thanks,” Ramsay said. “We congratulate each of you today on your well-deserved honour and recognition.”
Outgoing NWT Chief Supt. of the RCMP Wade Blake told The Journal the officers’ bravery is a model for them all.
He said he remembers getting goosebumps when the briefings came in for both incidents that involved RCMP officers.
“Those things could have been way more tragic than they turned out to be, but our members – and they continue to be this way – are the ones that are running always towards the danger, without consideration for themselves, to save somebody else or to prevent more damage or injuries from occurring,” Blake said.