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Yukoner Sean McGinnis presented with award from Governor General

McGinnis was presented with the awared at Rideau Hall in Ottawa
Sean McGinnis was presented with a medal of bravery on Sept. 7. (Submitted)

A Yukoner has been recognized by Governor-General Mary Simon for his bravery in saving a women from drowning in the Yukon River in 2016.

On Sept. 9, Sean McGinnis was one of 40 from across the country to be presented with the Decoration for Bravery.

The award is described as “one of Canada’s most-respected and prestigious civilian honours.”

The honour was presented to McGinnis in light of his courage on Oct. 16, 2016. He and a friend were walking in downtown Whitehorse when he heard a strange noise coming from the water and immediately recognized there was a person in distress, it’s noted on the Governor General’s website detailing the circumstances behind each Decoration for Bravery that was presented.

McGinnis followed the sound, running along the banks of the Yukon River and going into the water several times before finally seeing the woman, who was by that point floating on the surface of the water.

“He plunged into the freezing water and swam out several metres to reach the victim,” it’s stated. “Fighting against the current, he towed the woman back to shore and waited for help to arrive.”

The ceremony also served as an opportunity to mark the 50th anniversary of the awards that were part of a series of medals established by Queen Elizabeth II in 1972 to recognize courageous acts.

Since they were established, more than 4,200 have received Decorations for Bravery “in recognition of acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances that range from potential drownings and vehicle accidents to animal attacks and burning buildings.”

Anyone can nominate a person for the honour. Each nomination is researched before a review by an independent advisory committee or council, which then makes recommendations to the governor general.

Further information on the awards is available online.

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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