Hero returns home

Vijay Nand, left, receives his Medal of Bravery from David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, at a ceremony at Rideau Hall, Ottawa. Married father-of-two Nand was one of six heroes who plucked passengers from the burning fuselage of a plane which crashed on Russ Baker Way in 2011. Photograph By Sgt. Ronald Duchesne/Rideau Hall.

WHEN Vijay Nand left Fiji for Canada in 1991 he promised himself that he would return home.

Twenty-seven years on and Mr Nand says he has not changed his mind and is planning to return to Fiji to enjoy his retirement.

“I tell you, Fiji is one of the top places to live. “I am thinking of retirement in Fiji and preparing for that, so in a few years, I will be back. “This is where I was born, this is where I was raised, when I left in 1991 I said ‘I am going to go and make money and then I will retire in Fiji’, so I am hoping it will work that way.”

Born and raised in Suva, Mr Nand attended Tamavua Primary School before finishing off at the then Indian College (now Jai Narayan College).

Mr Nand joined the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation working in its administration department before leaving for Canada.

Despite being away from home for more than two decades, Mr Nand still has Fiji at heart.

In 2011, Mr Nand was enjoying a coffee break at a car park beside the airline company (Helijet) he does business with in Russ Baker Way, Richmond when a plane crashed.

Risking his own life, Mr Nand was one of six people who raced to the burning fuselage of the plane pulling passengers out of the flaming wreckage.

“Across the street from my airline company (Helijet) is McDonald’s, I went there for coffee, and I saw this plane coming down and I knew straightaway there was something wrong with it, so it went down and caught fire. I was the first guy who jumped in and opened the door. I took one person out and then other people helped out, I then proceeded to the cabin, but I couldn’t save the pilots, both of them died.

“I worked in airline industry, so I knew some stuff and it just came in my mind that I had to do something, I did not worry about what was going to happen to me. I knew the safety door, I knew how to release the seats. “My daughters were proud that I saved lives but they were also thinking, what if something had happened.”

The Richmond News published on October 21, 2014: “Both pilots of the Northern Thunderbird Air flight died in hospital, but the heroic efforts of the rescuers saved the lives of the seven passengers, many of whom were trapped in the burning fuselage.

“The six — Jeremy Kerr, John Redmond and Haim Peri, all of Vancouver, Lonney Lee, of Maple Ridge, Shawn Nagurny, of Sardis, and Vijay Francis Nand, of Richmond — were all awarded Canada’s Medal of Bravery from David Johnston, Governor-General of Canada, at a ceremony at Rideau Hall, Ottawa.

“Created in 1972, the decorations for bravery recognised people who risked their lives to try to save or protect the lives of others. “Above the Medal of Bravery, for acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances, the Cross of Valour is the top honour, for acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril; followed by the Star of Courage, for acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril.”