Two members of the Bear Clan Patrol just didn’t accept bravery awards for their heroic actions when they saw a fellow Winnipeg Transit passenger being threatened — they used their moment in the spotlight to encourage other heroes in society.
Jonathan Meikle was awarded the Royal Canadian Humane Association’s silver medal of bravery while Matthew Shorting received the bronze medal for stepping in, scuffling with, and overpowering a knife-wielding man last November.
“They went above and beyond to protect passengers on a bus,” Lieut. Governor Janice Filmon said during the medal ceremony on Wednesday at Government House.
“Tonight we are formally thanking them.”
But when Meikle stepped to the podium, he not only expressed thanks for the recognition, he said there are many others in society that can be thanked.
“It doesn’t take something bad to happen to be a hero,” he said, noting that just 15 months ago he spent a month in jail followed by residential treatment for addiction.
“Walking with the Bear Clan, I see them all the time. The hero is the teacher willing to work with the troubled student. The cop that has the heart to heart with the kid in the back seat. The probation officer.
“The hero is the person who stops and has a simple conversation with the homeless person on the street … heroes save people and a good one is one that can save a person before the bad occurs.”
Meikle even spoke about the man who was charged with several offences for what happened on the bus.
“(Devon Evan Charles) Henderson needed a hero,” he said. “Back before the ‘where did it all go wrong?’
“Think of that when you go home.”
Meikle and Shorting were on a transit bus in the downtown area just after midnight on Nov. 4, when they heard a passenger hurl racial slurs at a black passenger and threaten to stab him in the neck.
When the passenger being threatened got up to leave the bus, and the suspect followed him, that’s when Meikle and Shorting stepped in. The pair dragged the suspect off the bus and Meikle battled to get the knife away from him, getting stabbed in the leg during the scuffle.
The pair held the suspect until police arrived.
Henderson, 23, was later charged with several offences including robbery, assault with a weapon, and possession of a weapon.
Meikle said the stitches were removed from the back of his thigh a week after the incident and he is back to 100 per cent.
When Shorting spoke, he gave a shout out to youth in care because he said he himself was one from the time he was two months old to 18.
And, noting it is Black History Month, Shorting pointed to the racial taunts he heard, which started the incident on the bus, and said “no person should be treated as inhuman.”
James Favel, executive director of the Bear Clan, said he was “super happy” for the pair getting the medals.
“This is well deserved,” Favel said. “It is nice they are getting the recognition they deserve. They were off duty when this happened.
“It’s just fortunate they were there.”