Kevin Vickers

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Kevin Vickers
ONB SC
29th Canadian Ambassador to Ireland
Assumed office
January 19, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Justin Trudeau
Preceded by Loyola Hearn
9th Sergeant-at-Arms of the Canadian House of Commons
In office
September 1, 2006 – January 2015
Clerk Audrey O'Brien
Preceded by Maurice Gaston Cloutier
Personal details
Born Kevin Michael Vickers
(1956-09-29) September 29, 1956 (age 61)
Chatham, New Brunswick
Nationality Canadian
Children Andrew Vickers
Parents William James Vickers
Monica Margaret Vickers (née Kingston)
Occupation Police officer, parliamentary official, Ambassador
Police career
Current status Retired
Department Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Allegiance  Canada
Years of service 29
Rank RCMP Chief Superintendent Rank.svg Chief Superintendent

Kevin Michael Vickers ONB SC (born September 29, 1956) is a Canadian diplomat, former Sergeant at Arms and former Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer.[1] He has been the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland since 19 January 2015.[2][3] He became world famous as the ninth[4] Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons of Canada. The Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for the safety and security of the Parliament buildings and occupants, and ensuring and controlling access to the House of Commons. The position includes the ceremonial function of carrying the ceremonial gold mace into the House of Commons before every sitting.

Vickers participated in ending the October 22, 2014, shootings at Parliament Hill alongside RCMP Constable Curtis Barrett when they both returned heavy fire at gunman Zehaf-Bibeau.[5][6][7] Minutes earlier, Zehaf-Bibeau had killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a ceremonial guard, at the Canadian National War Memorial and shot a constable at the Peace Tower entrance.[8] For his actions Vickers has been called a hero by the Prime Minister, Ministers of the Crown,[9] the Leader of the Opposition,[10] and Canadian and international media.[11] On February 8, 2016, Vickers was presented with the Star of Courage along with six others involved in bringing the incident under control. Eight others were awarded the Medal of Bravery.[12]

Prior to his role in Parliament, Vickers served in the RCMP for 29 years, rising to the rank of Chief Superintendent.

Early life and family[edit]

Vickers was born at Hotel Dieu in Chatham, New Brunswick,[13] where his mother Monica Margaret (née Kingston) was a nurse and his father, William James "Bill" (1921-2005),[14] operated a dairy named Northumberland Co-op Dairy.[15] He is of Irish heritage.[16]

Vickers grew up in Newcastle (now part of the city of Miramichi). His father invited home students from developing countries studying co-operatives at the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.[17]

Career[edit]

Policing[edit]

Vickers served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 29 years, attaining the rank of Chief Superintendent. He gained prominence as the incident commander during the 1999–2000 Burnt Church Crisis.[18][19] He spent ten years stationed in Alberta and ten years stationed in the Northwest Territories,[20] and subsequently was the director-general of the RCMP's aboriginal police services branch.[21] In 2003, he became Director General of the National Contract Policing Branch for Canada, managing nine separate branches of law enforcement.[20]

Throughout his RCMP career, Vickers provided security for VIPs, including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew. He also served as an aide-de-camp for the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick.

Sergeant-at-Arms[edit]

In June 2005 he joined the House of Commons as Director of Security Operations. He was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms for the Canadian House of Commons on August 24, 2006, and began serving on September 1, 2006.[22][23]

On acting to permit the kirpan, the ceremonial dagger that observant Sikhs are required to wear at all times, to be worn in the Commons, Vickers recalled that in his interview for the post "... I told them that if they made me their Sergeant-at-Arms, there would be no walls built around Canada's Parliamentary buildings ... I have kept my promise."[17]

In 2013, when Idle No More protestors arrived at Parliament Hill, Vickers participated in a ritual exchange of tobacco with Serpent River First Nation chief Isadore Day.[24]

On October 22, 2014, during the Parliament Hill attack, Vickers was initially identified as the sole hero and credited with the fatal shooting of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau,[25][26] but once the independent OPP report was released on June 1, 2015, it was revealed that the suspect was shot several times by both Vickers and RCMP Constable Curtis Barrett.[27] Zehaf-Bibeau entered the Centre Block under the Peace Tower, shooting a Commons security guard in the leg, exchanging gunfire, before running down the Hall of Honour to an alcove by the entrance to the Library of Parliament, which is beside Vickers' office. Vickers pulled a 9mm handgun from a lock-box and entered the hall. He stood behind the pillar in an opposite position to Zehaf-Bibeau and shortly after Zehaf-Bibeau had pulled away from the pillar and shot at Barrett, Vickers threw himself on the ground and fired multiple shots at the gunman, effectively debilitating him. A niece told the Calgary Sun, "This is the first time in his career that he's shot anyone."[28]

Ambassador to Ireland[edit]

Vickers officially started duties as the Canadian ambassador to Ireland on 21 January 2015, replacing Loyola Hearn.[29]

On May 26, 2016, Vickers engaged a protester who was interrupting a ceremony commemorating British soldiers who were killed in the 1916 Easter Rising, dragging the man to one side before handing him over to Gardaí officers.[30][31]

Honours[edit]

Order New Brunswick ribbon bar.svg SC ribbon bar.png

125canada ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png RCMP Long Service Medal ribbon.svg

On October 22, 2014, members of the House of Commons protection services and the RCMP were instrumental in stopping an armed man who had stormed the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Ontario. Constable Son was stationed at the front entrance when he spotted the man entering with a concealed rifle. The constable lunged to gain control of the firearm, but it discharged and struck him in the leg. Drawn to the Rotunda by the noise, Corporal Malo and Constable Thom took cover and exchanged several rounds with the gunman after he entered the building. Constable Létourneau tracked the gunman down the Hall of Honour toward the Library of Parliament and fired at him several times. RCMP Sergeant Rozon, Corporal Daigle and constables Barrett, Bergeron, Bubelis, Célestin, Fraser, Marcoux, Palmer, Ruest and Waye, who had assembled outside the Peace Tower, entered the Centre Block. Supported by their colleagues, Sergeant Rozon, Corporal Daigle and constables Barrett and Fraser assumed a tactical formation (IARD) as they charged down the Hall of Honour. With the shooter now cornered in an alcove leading to the Library, Sergeant-at-Arms Vickers, after being advised of the shooter’s location, dove to the floor in front of him and fired his weapon. RCMP Constable Barrett walked directly toward the gunman while also firing his weapon. The collective actions of these 16 individuals brought the incident to an end in less than three minutes, and avoided further tragedy.[12]

Vickers has also been recognized by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration for his "Outstanding Contribution to Drug Enforcement".[18]

Unofficial honours[edit]

Vickers received an extended standing ovation in the House of Commons for his role in ending the 2014 shootings at Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

Comedian Stephen Colbert had high praise for Vickers, comparing his actions to those of Bruce Willis in the movie Die Hard and also praising his stoic reaction to the standing ovation in Parliament.[35][36]

French President François Hollande said in an address to the Canadian Parliament, "I salute the courage of Kevin Vickers, who is known all across the world."[37]

"The International Conference on Homeland Security in Tel Aviv in November 2014 opened with calling Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers to the stage to acknowledge him for his courage." During the same trip, Vickers was recognized by the speaker of the Israeli Knesset and asked to rise in his seat in the gallery to be acknowledged by parliamentarians.[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vongdouangchanh, Bea (September 18, 2006). "New Sgt.-at-Arms Vickers steps into Cloutier's shoes – Parliament Hill no more a threat than any large city's mass transit system: Sgt.-at-Arms Vickers". The Hill Times. 
  2. ^ "Kevin Vickers to be named Canadian ambassador to Ireland". CTV. January 8, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Appointment of New Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons" (Press release). Niagara Falls, Ontario: Rob Nicholson. August 24, 2006. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  4. ^ "House of Commons Procedure and Practice – Sergeants-at-Arms of the House of Commons Since 1867 – Appendix 11. Sergeants-at-Arms of the House of Commons Since 1867". House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, 2009. Parliament of Canada. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  5. ^ "OAKLEY - The Real Hero of Parliament Hill?". 640toronto.com. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "Police handled Hill shooter well: report". thestarphoenix.com. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  7. ^ National Post. "Who fired the fatal shot that killed Michael Zehaf-Bibeau? Eyewitness account suggests it wasn't Kevin Vickers - 24News.ca". 24news.ca. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  8. ^ Ian Austen; Rick Gladstone (October 22, 2014). "Gunman Panics Ottawa, Killing Soldier in Spree at Capital". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Alexander Smith; Alastair Jamieson; Justin Ling (October 23, 2014). "Canada Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers Hailed Hero Over Gun Attacks". NBC News. 
  10. ^ Randall Palmer; Leah Schnurr (October 23, 2014). "Cheers, tributes for Canadian guard credited with killing gunman". Reuters. 
  11. ^ Rob Crilly (22 October 2014). "Kevin Vickers: a Canadian hero". Telegraph.co.uk. 
  12. ^ a b c "Presentation of Decorations for Bravery". Rideau Hall Press Office,Office of the Governor General. February 4, 2016. Retrieved February 8, 2016. 
  13. ^ "KINGSTON 2000: Descendants of Samuel A Kingston and Lillian Isabella Loggie". TomKingston.com. August 1999. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  14. ^ "WILLIAM J. VICKERS: obituary and death notice on ImMemoriam". InMemoriam.ca. 
  15. ^ Alex Ballingall; Tonda MacCharles (October 22, 2014). "Parliament Hill sergeant-at-arms hailed as hero in Ottawa". Totonto Star. 
  16. ^ Sheila Langan (October 24, 2014). "Hero of Ottawa shooting, Kevin Vickers, is a proud Irish Canadian". IrishCentral.com. 
  17. ^ a b c Taber, Jane (June 2, 2011). "Parliament to 'accept and embrace' wearing of kirpan, sergeant-at-arms explains". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "Appointment of New Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons". The Office of the Leader of the Government in The House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform. August 24, 2006. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  19. ^ De Lint, Willem; Hall, Alan (2009). Intelligent Control: Developments in Public Order Policing in Canada. University of Toronto Press. Google Books. 
  20. ^ a b Savoy, Gail (January 2003). "Miramichi's own Kevin Vickers off to prestigious new position". Miramichi Leader. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  21. ^ Younger-Lewis, Greg (March 11, 2005). "Police explanation sheds little light on dog slaughter". Nunatsiaq News. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Appointment of New Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons". Market Wired. 
  23. ^ "Appointment of New Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons". RobNicholsonMP.ca. August 24, 2006. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  24. ^ Rabey, Matt (January 23, 2013). "Idle No More protest visits Parliament Hill". Lambda. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  25. ^ Stieber, Zachary (October 22, 2014). "Kevin Vickers, Sergeant-At-Arms, Shoots a Shooting Suspect in Ottawa; Called a 'Hero'". The Epoch Times. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  26. ^ Friesen, Joe (October 22, 2014). "What unfolded during the attack in Ottawa". Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  27. ^ John Ivison (June 2, 2015). "Who fired the fatal shot that killed Michael Zehaf-Bibeau? Eyewitness account suggests it wasn't Kevin Vickers - National Post". National Post. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  28. ^ Michael Platt (October 22, 2014). "Parliament Hill shooting: Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers the family hero who took down Ottawa gunman". Calgary Sun. 
  29. ^ Colin Gleeson (22 January 2015). "Canadian envoy who shot gunman presents credentials to Higgins". The Irish Times. 
  30. ^ "Canadian ambassador tackles protester at 1916 ceremony". TheJournal.ie. May 26, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Kevin Vickers, Canadian Ambassador To Ireland, Grabs Protester At 1916 Event". HuffPost Politics. May 26, 2016. 
  32. ^ Healy, J.J. (July 2008). "RCMP Vet of the Month: July 2008 – About our author: Sergeant at Arms, Kevin M. Vickers". RCMPGraves.com. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  33. ^ "15TH ANNUAL EID-UL-FITR – OCTOBER 7, 2009". The Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada. October 7, 2009. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Kevin Vickers receives Order of New Brunswick". Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  35. ^ Alexander Panetta (October 31, 2014). "Parliamentary hero Kevin Vickers gets high praise from Stephen Colbert". Toronto Star. 
  36. ^ "Stephen Colbert praises Kevin Vickers: 'To hell with Bruce Willis'". CBC News. October 31, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Kevin Vickers to be honoured at Israeli Knesset". CTVNews. 
  38. ^ "Kevin Vickers to be honoured by Israeli Knesset". Yahoo News Canada. November 11, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Maurice Gaston Cloutier
Sergeant-at-Arms of the
Canadian House of Commons

2006–2015
Vacant
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Loyola Hearn
Canadian Ambassador to Ireland
2015–present
Incumbent