Kristianna Barton

Medal of Bravery for young Surrey lifeguard

White Rock Christian Academy student was 14 when she saved man from drowning in Ontario.

A White Rock Christian Academy student was in Ottawa last week, honoured for an act of bravery that saved a man’s life three years ago in Ontario.

Kristianna Barton, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at WRCA, was one of 41 people from across Canada to receive a Medal of Bravery from Governor General David Johnston Friday morning.

In late September 2013, Barton, then a resident of Belleville, Ont. and a member of the Belleville Sea Cadet Corps RCSCC Quinte, dove into Gull Lake – described by her mother Kim as “icy cold” – to rescue an 84-year-old man who had slipped, smacked his head on the dock and fallen into the water.

The man was a non-swimmer, and inadvertently pulled Barton under the water several times while trying to stay afloat.

“My small, 14-year-old daughter continued to struggle and swim the man to shore, saving his life,” Kim told Peace Arch News.

The teen – who recently was hired as a South Surrey lifeguard by the city – was the only youth among the 41 medal recipients Friday.

“It was all out of the blue,” Barton said of the award, adding that she was nominated for it through the cadet program.

“I was super nervous (Friday), and it was crazy to meet so many other people who’d done such remarkable things.”

Barton – who moved to South Surrey with her family two years ago – is still involved with cadets, and is a member of South Surrey-based 307 RCSCC Mariner.

Created in 1972, Decorations for Bravery – which also includes the Cross of Valour and the Star of Courage – recognize people who “risk their lives to try and save or protect the lives of others” according to a news release.

Specifically, the Medal of Bravery “recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.”

Barton said the ceremony did dredge up a few “traumatic” memories of her rescue effort, but it was nice to be recognized.

As well, the situation is what led to her becoming a lifeguard and swim instructor, she said.

“It inspired me to be a lifeguard, and just make sure everybody knows how to swim,” she said.

Last week, prior to her trip to Ottawa, WRCA posted about Barton’s award on the school website, describing how she “dove into a lake to save a drowning man at great peril to herself.”

“Well done Kristianna. We are so proud of you!” it continues.

In 2013, just weeks after her rescue effort, Barton was honoured for her bravery by the City of Belleville, and was recognized at a city council meeting by the mayor and others.

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