A Manitoba hero who was bestowed with medals of bravery after saving five children and a teenager from a burning home in 1996 says he’s thankful to a Winnipeg woman who worked to bring them two of them back into his possession.
Just over a week ago, Corrina Pakosh was helping a friend clean up when she came across the bronze and silver medals, and began working to return them to their rightful owner.
Leslie Blanchette picked them up from Pakosh and that friend on Wednesday afternoon, after his daughter saw Pakosh’s widely-shared social media post and got in contact with her.
“The two men hugged, we hugged. There were tears … His family thanked us. We were just more than happy to help get it back to him,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.
CBC News spoke on the phone to Blanchette, who said he was grateful to Pakosh, but didn’t want to do a formal interview.
Pakosh said she was told Blanchette was actually given three medals by former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. They were in a storage unit that was broken into.
According to the website of the Governor General, Leslie Warren Blanchette was bestowed with the two medals in 1999 for rescuing five children and a teenager from a burning house in his neighbourhood three years prior.
On June 10, 1996, Blanchette hopped to action as soon as he discovered his neighbour’s house was on fire. He rushed inside the front door and saw the kitchen was engulfed in flames, according to an entry on the Governor General’s website.
He helped a 13-year-old babysitter and two panicked toddlers who were upstairs get to safety. Then, he went back inside the fiery house to find another little girl in the back of the house to bring her outside.
Pakosh said it was incredible to meet such a hero.
“Seeing the look on his face and being able to hug a man that went into a home to rescue six kids, we felt more honoured I’m sure than he did getting those awards. That was an amazing thing he did,” she said.
Blanchette’s children have gotten in touch with Pakosh to thank her for getting the medals back to him.
WATCH | Archival video of Blanchette’s medal ceremony:
“They’re very kind kids, and very proud of their father and so happy he has that back,” Pakosh said.
“There’s one still out there, so if anyone finds a special medal with his name on it, please contact me, I’ll find him for you.”