Four Bella Coola boys were honoured with awards from the Royal Canadian Humane Association in Surrey last month for their actions during a house fire last year.
On November 13, 2012, a fire started in the basement of the Bolton’s two-story home in 4-Mile. The parents and all four of their children were home at the time of the blaze, along with two friends.
Eleven-year-old David Bolton, the eldest son, smelt smoke and alerted the rest of his family. He had been playing upstairs and thought the oven was on, but when he left his room he could see the smoke pouring out of the basement. He ran down and yelled for his mother, who was in a room on the other side of the basement. She had not yet noticed the smoke and would have been trapped if David had not alerted her.
The fire apparently started in a dryer, had crept up the wall and smoke was billowing onto the top floor. David next alerted his 10-year-old brother Gary and their friends Kilhus Edgar and Fa’avae Vaa. The four boys quickly found the two younger siblings and they managed to carry the five and three year old out of the burning building. Although nothing could be salvaged, all members of the family were safe due to the quick actions of the four older children.
For his alert and swift actions in a dangerous situation, David Bolton was awarded the Bronze Medal for Bravery. For their presence of mind in carrying out the younger children the Honorary Testimonial Certificate was awarded to Gary Bolton, Kilhus Edgar and Fa’avae Vaa.
The Royal Canadian Humane Association was established in Canada in 1894 when Queen Victoria granted Royal Patronage, and the use of the prefix “Royal”, in the name of the Association.
Originally the R.C.H.A. was devised as a central nationwide organization to preserve from the “iniquity of oblivion” the names and deeds of the people of this country who have shown their willingness to sacrifice themselves to save others. The purpose has evolved to “provide meaningful recognition to those persons who, through their alertness, skill, and concern bring about the saving of life, especially where those actions lie outside the ordinary duties of the person involved”.
The high standards of the R.C.H.A. are rigidly maintained. Gold Medals are usually reserved for those deeds of bravery at the cost of the hero’s life. Silver and Bronze Medals may be granted when the recipient has shown extraordinary disregard for personal safety in saving or attempting to save the life of another. Honorary Testimonial Certificates are awarded to commemorate a rescue attempt where the risk may not be as great.
In its role as a national award board, the R.C.H.A. maintains a close affiliation with other, similar award granting Commonwealth and international organizations. In this capacity the R.C.H.A. can ensure that Canadians may be duly recognized not only at a national level but also at a worldwide level for their bravery or heroic actions.