Encouraging Excellence

In 1972, Queen Elizabeth II established a series of medals recognizing courageous acts. In the last 50 years, the Governor General has awarded Decorations for Bravery to more than 4200 recipients: Canadians and others, civilians and uniformed personnel, living and deceased—in recognition of acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances that range from potential drownings and vehicle accidents to animal attacks and burning buildings.

Bravery 1972-2022

[Screen Description: Text on a grey background reads, “Canadian Honours, Margaret Bell, Medal of Bravery.” There is a viceregal lion above the text.]

[Screen Description: Several words characterizing honours recipients move across a black screen. The screen reads, “Canadian honours presented by the Governor General”.]

[Screen Description: Margaret Bell is walking down a paved road. There is snow on the ground around her.]

[Margaret Bell:] I understand that my life was at risk.

But, I think, if I had to do it again I would.

[Screen Description: Margaret Bell is standing outside near a reservoir of water. She is speaking to the camera. The screen reads, “Margaret Bell, Calgary, Alberta, Recipient of the Medal for Bravery”.]

On August 1st, 2017, as I usually do every morning, I come for a walk before work.

As I came into the park and coming down the pathway, I could see in the middle of the reservoir that there was a rowboat.

And as I got closer to this area, I saw that there was actually somebody in the water.

I'm thinking, "Holy cow! I got to see what's going on here, I need to start running."

And as I got closer, I did see that someone was struggling in the water.

They were yelling something, but they were too far away, I couldn't hear.

So, I took my shoes off and I got into the water, and I started swimming towards him.

He was in a panic, screaming and yelling, "Help me! Help me!"

And I said, "I'm coming, I'm coming. It's okay, I'm going to help you."

I pulled him towards me and I said, "Now you need to get onto your back and I'm going to pull you to shore."

[Screen Description: Captain Murray Ost is standing outside and speaking to the camera. The screen reads, “Captain Murray Ost, Calgary Fire Department.” There is a fire truck behind him.]

[Screen Description: Throughout the video, the screen alternates between Ms. Bell and Captain Ost.]

[Captain Murray Ost:] To put yourself in that situation, to enter a still body of water by yourself, she truly exhibited bravery, above and beyond.

[Margaret Bell:] He was so fatigued and so cold. And I could see him at that moment, shaking profusely, very hypothermic. His lips were blue.

And somehow, I lifted him out of the water onto the shore.

I don't know how I did, but I did it.

[Captain Murray Ost:] The temperature of our water, our still water in Calgary, is extremely cold, it's extremely debilitating.

It does not take that long for people to lose their bearings within the water.

Had Margaret not risked herself, entered the water and pulled this individual from the water, I do not think this individual would have survived.

[Margaret Bell:] I feel pride and happiness that I was able to help this young man. And to prolong his journey in life.

He's a 25-year-old man; he has his life in front of him.

For me, receiving the Medal of Bravery is a huge honour.

To the person that recommended me for this award, even though I don't know who it is, I thank you for recognizing my efforts.

And, to be recognized for that is... is... truly humbling.

I... I... I'm speechless.

[Screen Description: Text on a grey background reads, “The Decorations for Bravery recognize the courage of everyday heroes who ignored their own survival instinct and risked their lives to try to save a loved one or perfect stranger whose life was in immediate danger. gg.ca/honours.” There is a Medal of Bravery, a Star of Courage, and a Cross of Valour above the text.]

[Screen Description: A viceregal lion on a grey background.]