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Scott McDougall wins Yukon Commissioner’s bravery award for June river rescue

2021 commissioner’s awards announced
The Commissioner’s Award for Bravery (left) and the Commissioner’s Award for Public Volunteer Service. (Submitted)

Angélique Bernard, the territory’s commissioner, will be honouring five Yukoners over the coming weeks as she gets set to present the Commissioner’s Award for Bravery, and the Commissioner’s Award for Public Volunteer Service for 2021.

“I am honoured and thrilled to announce this year’s recipients,” Bernard said. “They demonstrate the wide variety of dedicated volunteers in the Yukon, all of whom are invaluable to so many events and programs.”

Bravery recognized

The names of the 2021 recipients were announced in a Nov. 17 statement with Scott McDougall being named for the bravery award which recognizes “an outstanding act of bravery and [someone who] has responded with great effort and at considerable personal risk in hazardous circumstances to save or safeguard, or attempt to save or safeguard, the life of one or more people.”

McDougall, who owns Kanoe People in downtown Whitehorse, rescued a man who had slipped into the fast current of the Yukon River in June. McDougall took a canoe and life preserver from his shop when he was told someone was drowning, eventually locating the man down river and rescuing him.

At the time, McDougall commented he was part of a “great community effort.”

He commended the two women who told him about the situation, noting it would have been a much different story had they not.

“It was pretty amazing how it all came to positive results,” he said.

The RCMP also commended McDougall at the time.

“The courage displayed by Mr. Scott McDougall of Kanoe People was outstanding, and the response of the public and our members and public safety partners was nothing short of remarkable,” said Insp. Lindsay Ellis of the Whitehorse RCMP.

Volunteers recognized

Meanwhile, the Public Volunteer Service award recognizes exceptional volunteer achievements in a wide range of fields and pays tribute to their dedication and commitment.

In 2021, four Yukoners are being recognized for volunteer work in a variety of roles that have contributed to the territory.

Dieter Gade is receiving the service award for his work with the Junction Arts and Music Society over the last 14 years and for “all he does” in the community of Haines Junction over the last 25 years.

Terence Grabowski will receive the award for all his extensive work over the years with the Whitehorse Legion Branch 254 and with veterans in the Yukon and across Canada. Grabowski has presented many quilts to serving veterans and has been instrumental in three U.S. veterans receiving quilts through Quilts of Valour.

Bev Regier will receive the service award for 18 years of volunteering with the Yukon Quest sled dog race. Over the years, Reiger has done everything from work on the trails to fundraising to serving as president of the organization.

Finally, Bill Thomas, who passed away in October, will be recognized posthumously with the award for his efforts over the last 14 years advancing the issues around poverty, homelessness, care for and rights of people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and seniors’ rights through his work with a variety of organizations. His daughter, Ellen Thomas, will accept the award on his behalf.

Awards presentation

Typically, award recipients would be presented with their pin and certificate at the Commissioner’s New Year’s Levee on Jan. 1. The levee, however, is cancelled due to COVID-19.

Bernard will instead present the awards individually over the next few weeks.

The next intake for award nominations will be in the spring of 2022.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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