Cougar fighter honoured for bravery
Gov. Gen. David Johnston presents the Medals of Bravery to Dawn Manning at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, April 20, 2012. (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - A B.C. woman who battled an aggressive cougar to save her son's life was among a group saluted for bravery at Ottawa's Rideau Hall on Friday.
More than 30 bravery decorations were given out by Gov. Gen. David Johnston at a ceremony acknowledging individual efforts to protect others and save lives.
"You have shown that the most valuable thing in the world is another life," Johnston said at the service. "What stories you have. Each is unique, yet each is a testament to your respect for life."
On a Washington state hiking trip in 2009, a cougar pounced on Dawn Manning's five-year-old son, Simon, and she fought back with a metal water bottle.
"I decided that I was going to have to hit this cougar and hoped to get it on to me and off of Simon," Manning said. "A lot of people call it a mama bear reaction, but I really believe anybody would have done the same thing. It was just an instinct to protect him."
Manning's son still remembers the cougar's attack and where the animal sunk its teeth into Simon's skull.
"When I was being attacked, I didn't see anything. I had my eyes closed the whole time," Simon said. "I was scared, and I didn't feel him dragging me."
But he was being dragged - and his mother continued to hit the cougar until it was scared off.
Another individual honoured at the ceremony was George Rusu, an assistant manager of an Ottawa pharmacy who was stabbed trying to rescue a woman attacked by her ex-boyfriend.
Melissa and Marie-Eve Fortier accepted the award on behalf of their father, Marc, who was killed trying to protect a friend from an attacker in Amos, Que.
The Canadian Bravery Decorations were created in 1972 and there are traditionally about two to three ceremonies held to honour the efforts of Canadians annually.
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