Five years ago, Bryden Hutt's wish was to go to Disney World to meet a German boy who had provided him with a life-saving bone-marrow transplant. Since then, the nine-year-old has raised more than $30,000 for the Children's Wish Foundation, earning a trip to Rideau Hall to receive one of 60 Diamond Jubilee Medals awarded to meritorious Canadians at a special ceremony.
For Bryden, who has the rare and life-threatening Omenn syndrome, getting a medal pinned on his oversized dress shirt in the company of Governor-General David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the highest honour he could imagine.
"I felt super-duper happy. I thought maybe my heart was going to explode," he said afterward.
Over all, 60,000 Diamond Jubilee Medals will be handed out this year in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne in 1952. Some recipients are getting a medal based on their position, such as premiers, senators and MPs, a few of whom have decided to give it a pass. But most of the medals will go to Canadians from all walks of life, be they community workers, athletes, volunteers, soldiers or teachers, to recognize what they are giving back to their country.
Medals are already being offered at local ceremonies across Canada, with many more to come. Here are a few others recipients honoured at Rideau Hall on Monday:
A businesswoman in the metals sector in Montreal, Ms. Bedard is honoured for heading a six-year-old foundation called 60 Million Girls. With other volunteers, she aims to break gender barriers by helping girls obtain proper education in countries like Kenya and India, where boys tend to be favoured.
"It's clear that sending a girl to school has a great impact, both for themselves and their family and community," she said.
In 1980, Mr. Fox accompanied his brother Terry, then on a cross-country marathon to raise money for cancer research, to meet then-governor-general Ed Schreyer. Back at Rideau Hall 32 years later to receive a Diamond Jubilee Medal, Mr. Fox said he is accepting it on behalf of his brother and their mother, but also everyone who has participated in the Terry Fox Foundation over the years.
"Terry was a big fan of this country. This would mean a lot to him, because he believed in this country, and the Marathon of Hope was about uniting the country," he said. "His story still resonates, and I think it always will."
Captain Simon Mailloux
After losing a leg to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, Capt. Mailloux underwent rehabilitation. Then he started to train to return for another tour of duty, which had been unthinkable until he made it happen. Now back in Ottawa, he is managing the Canadian Forces anti-IED taskforce.
"I want the Canadian Forces to be a world leader in the fight against explosives," he said. "The insurgents are always actively trying to improve their techniques, and I want us to stay one step ahead of them."
The executive director of the Toronto Community & Culture Centre helps immigrants from mainland China to find jobs, but also to integrate into Canadian culture while maintaining their own heritage.
"Our organization is aimed especially at the youth. The key is to provide them with employment services, but we also promote Chinese culture in Canada and encourage exchanges to help people integrate in Canadian culture and society," he said.