For the first time in Canadian history, a Turkish citizen was awarded a “Courage Medal” by the Governor of the country.
Rıza Kasikcioglu, a resident of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, received his “courage medal” from Julie Payette, the Governor General of Canada at the official residence of the Governor General of Canada in Ottawa. Ms Julie Payette thanked Mr. Kasikcioglu who attended the ceremony with his wife and two sons for his bravery and presented his medal.
After the ceremony, Kasikcioglu talked about his feelings and said "To help the needy, the fallen, is an order in Turkish customs, tradition and Islam. When I saw that fire had started in that apartment, I immediately ran to get the people out. I had a back problem as I carried them on my shoulder and also had a problem with my head because I hit it somewhere while running. However I would never hesitate to do the same thing, today"
Kasikcioglu voiced his happiness as he was awarded the “Canadian Courage Medal” and said "I took this medal on behalf of the great Turkish nation that I am proud to be a member of."
Kasikcioglu narrated the incident as follows:
''I entered the building and ran all fire alarms. I asked people to get out of the building. I saw an old woman in a wheelchair in smoke on a seventh-floor apartment. I carried her down on my shoulder in the wheelchair seven floors and helped her out. That is when I had my back hurt. We are Turks, we are Muslims. This is our duty as human. We cannot leave anyone burning to death. If I knew where the person who died was I would have intervened as well.
Mr. Selcuk Unal Turkey's Ambassador also attended the ceremony at the invitation of the Governor General of Canada. Mr. Unal, who accompanied Kasikcioglu’s family at the ceremony, and hosted the family in the embassy later.
The Ambassador said “While helping people escape the fire, Kasikcioglu’s health was also affected. However, he saved many people by throwing his own life in danger. This is an example on all kinds of discretion. He also showed the courage and heroism of our nation. He attended the medal ceremony in a jacket with a Turkish flag on his chest and thus represented our nation, proudly."