By Peter Moon
SANDY LAKE – A Canadian Ranger has received the Medal of Bravery for saving the lives of six people in a house fire on a remote First Nation in Northern Ontario.
Ranger Fontaine Fiddler of Sandy Lake, a remote Oji-Cree community 600 kilometers northwest of Thunder Bay, was presented with the prestigious medal by Governor General Julie Payette in an investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
On April 5, 2016, he and his cousin, Jules Kakekagumick, noticed a house was on fire. There were four young children in the house along with two adults. “Ranger Fiddler found the family trapped by the flames,” said the citation for his medal. “He ran to the back and found a way into the house. He removed four children to safety before re-entering the residence to locate the other victims. All members of the family survived, thanks to Ranger Fiddler’s efforts.”
“We are proud of all our Rangers,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Richardson, commanding officer of 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, “and it’s nice that the actions of one our Rangers has been recognized. Fontaine is certainly deserving of this award and we’re proud he’s been presented with this medal by the Governor-General.
“He has been recognized for doing something quite significant. He saw something and he took action and, as a result, saved several lives.”
Ranger Fontaine’s cousin looked after the four children when they got out of the house and kept them a safe distance from the flames, which destroyed the building.
Ranger Fontaine said he was not nervous when he went into the burning building but he was when he stepped in front of the Governor General to have her place the medal on his chest.
“I was sort of nervous,” he said. “She congratulated me. She asked me how long I’ve been a Ranger and I told her 14 years. She said she was a big fan of the Rangers.”
Four people accompanied him to the investiture. They were his wife, Jacqueline Harper; Fabian Crow, a member of the Sandy Lake band council; Terrance Meekis, a fellow member of the Sandy Lake Canadian Ranger patrol; and Sergeant Ben Kirke, a Canadian Army instructor.
“I wasn’t expecting to get anything when I did what I did at the fire,” Ranger Fontaine said. “I just wanted to make sure they were all safe.”
“The audience applauded the most for Ranger Fiddler when he got his medal,” said Sergeant Kirke. “Everyone enjoyed his presence and his humble attitude.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)