The "Antidote" to Pandemic Stress? Dr. Henry Shoes
/ Author: Caroline Chuba
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The "Antidote" to Pandemic Stress? Dr. Henry Shoes

BC’s Dr. Henry provides a daily reminder that COVID-19 is taking a toll on all of us, particularly leaders faced with making tough decisions. Her advice—be kind, be calm, be safe—and her manner are an inspiration

By Caroline Chuba, Regional Director, Langley Member Centre

For those of you who don’t live in BC, Dr. Bonnie Henry, our provincial health officer (PHO), has become quite the local celebrity. Her daily press conferences providing updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, presented jointly with Adrian Dix, BC’s minister of health, have quickly become a part of our daily afternoon routines for many of us.

Dr. Henry’s composed, reassuring manner and occasional displays of emotion remind us that the pandemic is taking a toll on everyone, particularly those in leadership positions who are trying to make the very best decisions they can in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. At the completion of each press conference, she reminds us that we need to be kind to each other, to be calm, and to stay safe.

A few weeks into her daily briefings, something quite wonderful happened. People began noticing something else about Dr. Henry: she has an incredible collection of shoes, many of which are Fluevogs.

Most discerning shoe shoppers know that Fluevogs are shoes designed by John Fluevog. If you’re from Vancouver and of a certain age, you might remember his original store on Granville Street in the ’70s. Today, his unique and highly artistic footwear is available at locations around the world.

Fluevogers everywhere were delighted to find out that Dr. Henry is a fan—so much so that a number of them suggested to John Fluevog that he create a special shoe in honour of our much-admired PHO.

Happy to oblige the request, Fluevog designed a pair of shoes in bright two-toned pink, with Dr. Henry’s own words—be kind, be calm, and be safe—stamped onto the soles of every pair. He then announced that the limited edition “Dr. Henry” shoe would be available for presale order on April 23, with proceeds going to support Food Banks BC.

The combination of limited edition shoes and presale profits benefitting such a great cause turned out to be quite irresistible. Demand for the shoes crashed the Fluevog website five minutes prior to the official start time of the sale.

Hours later, with the site working sporadically, many excited and hopeful shoppers were left disappointed as the coveted shoes quickly sold out. While some posted negative comments, most people were philosophical about the whole event—it’s just shoes after all—stating that even though they weren’t able to purchase the shoes, they planned to donate money to Food Banks BC in Dr. Henry’s honour.

All in all, it was a win-win for BC Food Banks and a fabulous tribute to Dr. Henry, who I hope was gifted with a pair of her own namesake Fluevogs.

In the weeks since we started social distancing, and with most of our team in the Langley Member Centre now working from home, I find myself like so many others reflecting on what’s most important in my life. I miss seeing my family, friends, and coworkers. I’m spending less money and sorting through all kinds of stuff in my house that I really don’t need. I’m trying to keep in touch with people by phone, Zoom, email, and texts. I dress much more casually, and I need a haircut.

A group of my friends schedule regular Zoom calls where they all dress up and wear silly hats, an example of creative ways to get together and have some social interaction and fun. I’ve been wearing some of my more outrageous shoes to work on Fridays (I am also a Fluevog fan!), mostly to amuse others. I confess that I watch Dr. Henry’s daily updates not only for information about the course of the pandemic in our province and to hear her reassuring words, but to see if I can catch a glimpse of her shoes.

While she didn’t exactly break the Internet, the fact that demand could be so high for this specific pair of shoes that it completely crashed the Fluevog website is rather hilarious and apparently quite shocking, even to John Fluevog himself. Who knew that shoes named for a provincial health officer could cause such a fuss?

Perhaps, though, it is a testament to the level of appreciation so many of us have for the warm and empathetic leadership that Dr. Henry provides. It’s our chance to express that appreciation, while benefitting a local charity.

On the other hand, maybe it was the shoes themselves. I suspect it was a bit of both. I didn’t get to buy a pair of Fluevog’s Dr. Henry shoes, but—full disclosure—I certainly did try.

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