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Hundreds of ‘perfectly good boots’ trashed at Yellowknife dump, people snatch them up

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A heap of black, yellow and orange boots at the Yellowknife dump caused a buzz among local residents — so much so that seemingly, within a week of being thrown out, most of the boots had found new homes. 

Longtime Yellowknifer Walt Humphries first noticed the pile of boots last Friday.

“These ones haven’t been used much,” said Humphries, a writer, artist and prospector who’s lived in Yellowknife for over 40 years. “They’re perfectly good boots, there’s nothing wrong with them.”

He said he saw close to a hundred pairs of steel-toed miners boots from the brand Viking Footwear — the kind of boots that Humphries says he’s been using “all my years up in Yellowknife.”

A brand new pair goes for well over $100 online, noted Humphries.

Humphries said he saw a pile of steel-toed miners boots from the brand Viking Footwear. They retail for well over $100 online. By Friday, there were only a few pairs left, mostly in larger sizes. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

Humphries, who said he’s salvaged at the dump all his life, said he immediately dug through the pile to find his size. A handful of others were also there, salvaging for a pair too, he said.

Humphries said he noticed that some pairs had people’s names written on the inside neck of the boots

I only took a few crates out there just to see what would happen. Lo and behold, they were all gone.– Lloyd Lush, local man who owned the boots

“Just people’s last names. Like Edgar, Joe, nothing out of the ordinary … I assume it came from of the mines,” he said, adding that miners often write their names to keep their footwear separate from the other workers.

People excited, some concerned on social media

Word of mouth turned the boots into a hot commodity in town. 

On a Facebook post shared in a Yellowknife Classifieds group, some people were elated with the news.

“I NEED a pair,” wrote one resident. 

“Cheaper than Walmart,” wrote another.

Meanwhile others showed concerns about the amount of unnecessary waste at the dump, and some questioned the safety of the boots.

Christina Socha, a Yellowknife resident, said she dropped by the dump Thursday.

“There [were] only a few pairs left!” she told CBC through a message.

Man discovers trove of rubber boots after auction 

But Lloyd Lush, a Yellowknifer of 35 years who works in the scrap metal and recycling business, said it was all meant for people to salvage.

Lush said he received the surprise batch of footwear after winning a bid at a mine auction recently. Along with other equipment and motors, Lush said he cracked open the six, 4×4-foot wooden crates to discover he now owned hundreds of rubber, steel-toe boots.

A recycler by trade and heart, Lush said he tried to share his trove.

“Nobody else wanted ’em. Nope. I asked everyone else, they said they had to be sanitized, cleaned,” he said.

So Lush brought about three crates to the landfill last week, knowing its popularity among Yellowknife’s salvagers, hoping the boots would find homes. 

“I only took a few crates out there just to see what would happen. ‘Lo and behold, they were all gone,” said Lush, chuckling. “It’s recycled. It’s awesome!”

Lloyd Lush said he received six crates full of boots after winning a bid at an auction. (Submitted by Lloyd Lush)

Lush said he’s planning on sending a crate of boots to the homeless shelter in Calgary.

And the rest?

“If you want any rubber boots, the dump has got you covered. You better get out there,” said Lush. 

Finding footwear at dump not uncommon

“Luckily these ones got salvaged, often they don’t. And it’s such a waste to destroy perfectly good stuff,” said Humphries.

Humphries is a frequenter of the dump and said he goes about once a week. He said finding footwear isn’t uncommon.

A few years ago, he said he found a heap of about a hundred pairs of white winter boots at the dump.

Walt Humphries is a writer, artist and prospector who’s lived in Yellowknife for over 40 years. He goes to salvage at the dump about once a week. (Submitted by Walt Humphries)

Humphries said he wants the city to do something about large quantities of “perfectly good” products being trashed. 

“The city and the government … should be a lot more proactive about making sure the good stuff doesn’t end up buried at the dump,” he said. 

“That makes absolutely no sense.”

“We do encourage items to be donated to organizations when possible such as the Habitat for Humanity ReStore at the Solid Waste Facility,” stated a city spokesperson in an email to CBC, adding residents are “very familiar” with salvaging opportunities at the dump.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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