JERUSALEM—Hailed as a hero at home, the House of Commons’ sergeant-at-arms is now getting a celebrity welcome abroad.
But Kevin Vickers is greeting the international attention with the same modesty that characterized his response to the outpouring of support at home in the wake of the deadly attacks of Oct. 22.
In Jerusalem to attend an international security conference on Wednesday, Vickers was invited to meet Israel’s prime minister and other high-ranking government officials and was honoured by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
He said the people at the Knesset reminded him of the team he has around him in Ottawa.
“Though I’m honoured to think (you’re) excited about me, I wish and hope you realize it’s about the entire team that performed very well on that day,” he said on a video circulated by Israeli officials.
The trip had been arranged prior to the attack on Parliament Hill, where Vickers was credited with taking the final, fatal, shot at an armed gunman who ran into Centre Block minutes after killing a soldier at the National War Memorial.
“This terror attack in Ottawa proves, once again, that Islamic radical terrorism has no limits and respects no borders,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following their meeting Wednesday.
“Israel and Canada stand side-by-side in the international effort to eliminate terrorism.”
Vickers’ meetings included a sit-down with the Speaker of the Knesset, who gave him a coffee-table book about Jerusalem. In return, Vickers presented neck ties bearing the logo of the Canadian Association of Sergeants-At-Arms to the Speaker and one of the Knesset’s top security people.
The lesson to be learned from the Ottawa shooting is that safety is community based, Vickers said.
“This is not an issue just for security, this is everybody’s issue and how we deal with this is by everybody, all the citizens, working together with their local police, their national police to ensure we have a safe society,” he said.
“I think that is accomplished by respecting the dignity of people.”
The trip was sponsored by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, a lobbying group that, among other things, takes members of Parliament and other community leaders to Israel on so-called fact-finding missions.
The day after the shooting, people lined the halls of Parliament to applaud Vickers as he resumed his normal duties. In the Commons, MPs gave him standing ovations and all party leaders made a point of shaking his hand and hugging him.
Throughout it all, Vickers’ remained stoic, getting emotional only briefly.
During a state visit by French President Francois Hollande last week, Vickers was honoured again in the Commons.
“This seat of democracy … was defiled on Oct. 22 by a terrorist-inspired attack, the ultimate goal of which was to attack the very idea of freedom, which this Parliament represents,” Hollande said during an address to the Parliament.
“I salute the courage of Kevin Vickers, who is known all across the world.”