Last Friday, Peter Richard Moody stood alongside 39 other Canadians in Ottawa’s Rideau Hall as they were presented with Medals of Bravery by Governor General David Johnston. First created in 1972, the Medal of Bravery recognizes people who undertake extraordinary actions to save or protect the lives of others, almost always at the risk of their own. Some of the other recipients were police officers and firefighters who had pulled people out of burning vehicles or had climbed up buildings to rescue trapped victims. Others, like Moody, were average Canadians who found themselves thrust into a perilous situation and acted admirably. Moody earned his place among those assembled due to an event in 2012, when he fought an adult grizzly bear with nothing more than a skiing pole to save his wife.
“On November 25, 2012, Peter Moody risked his life to protect his wife who was being attacked by a bear in Kimberley, British Columbia,” stated the Governor General’s office. “The couple was hiking in a wooded area when they encountered the grizzly, which attacked the woman and pinned her to the ground. Using a ski pole as a weapon, Mr. Moody diverted the bear’s attention, even after having been attacked himself. The couple remained motionless to convince the bear they were no threat. After the bear left the area, the severely injured couple managed to walk to a nearby house where they found help.”
Moody told The Kimberley Bulletin back in 2013 that he was terrified by the sudden appearance of the bear, which was trailed by cubs. His wife, Susan Bond, even recalled hearing her bones breaking under the bear’s savage assault.
“The bear is on top of Susan, snuffling, doing some damage,” Moody said. “I couldn’t see exactly what she was doing. I always hike with ski poles because I have dodgy knees, so I just instinctively beat on the back of the bear with the poles.”
The bear then turned its attention on him, throwing Moody to the ground and mauling his legs. Undaunted, the man managed to get back to his feet and continue beating the bear with his ski pole. Moody admitted that he did not know if he was having any effect on the bear, but his actions did draw the grizzly away from his wife. After being knocked down again, the couple laid motionless and the bear left.
The couple still bear scars from the encounter, yet they stood proud in Rideau Hall on Friday.
“None of you would call yourself a hero. You were simply going about your daily routine when you were suddenly faced with an extreme situation,” Johnston addressed the recipients. “You did what you knew had to be done. You did the extraordinary.”
The Medal of Bravery is one of three decorations for bravery awarded by the Canadian government to civilians. Also included is the Star of Courage, which recognizes acts of conspicuous bravery in great peril, and the Cross of Valour, which recognizes courage in circumstances of the most extreme peril. The Cross of Valour is the highest honor available to Canadian civilians, and has only been awarded 20 times since its inception—including five posthumous awards.
Image courtesy Sgt. Ronald Duschesne/Office of the Secretary to the Governor General