Five boys who helped rescue a child dangling from a Grouse Mountain chairlift last winter were honoured by Governor General Julie Payette during a special Saturday morning ceremony in North Vancouver.
Payette told the five boys, who were dressed in green hooded sweatshirts, that it might seem odd for them to be recognized publicly for doing something good.
“I’m sure you do good all the time,” she said, as the boys’ proud families looked on.
But Payette said she felt it was important to recognize and show appreciation when young people do good things.
This is “very ceremonial, so you’ll have to bear with me,” she told the boys, before greeting each one individually.
“Sir, thank you very much for your bravery,” she said, stepping forward for a handshake during which she transferred a “challenge coin” from her palm to theirs. The boys smiled and nodded before plunging the commemorative coin into the pocket of their hoodies.
Payette spoke about her 16-year-old son and her love for sports, including skiing. She also mentioned the time she spent in North Vancouver training for space travel in a diving suit designed by local inventor Phil Nuytten.
She told the boys she saw television footage of their rescue last winter and first wrote them a letter commending them for their actions back in July.
After the ceremony, she spent time chatting with them about their interests and future plans, asking each one to point out his siblings and other family members in the crowd of onlookers.
She also took questions from the media, and then asked if she could stand off to one side and listen to the boys take their own questions from reporters.
In the afternoon, Payette participated in a public skate before attending the Vancouver 2010 10th Anniversary Gala. She helped carry the Olympic flag into B.C. Place Stadium during the Vancouver 2010 opening ceremonies. She spent the morning visiting a safe injection site and meeting with first responders dealing with the opioid overdose crisis.
The teens — James MacDonald, Gabriel Neilson, Joshua Ravensbergen, Samuel North and Ethan Harvey — seemed to take the ceremony in stride.
“It means a lot. She’s done so many great things,” said MacDonald.
The boys, who are all in Grade 9, met at school when they were six years of age and have been skiing together since, usually three times per week.
On Feb. 27, 2019, they were skiing together when they saw an eight-year-old boy hanging from a chairlift. His dad was holding onto his hands. Together, the boys grabbed a piece of orange snow fencing and manoeuvred it beneath the chair. They urged the child to kick off his skis and jump into the netting. The child was not injured in the fall.
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