Tracy Waugh Antoine searched frantically for a pair of golden high-heeled shoes at the Fort Simpson donation centre on Thursday.
The shoes had arrived on a planeload of donations, piled among gifts ranging from warm clothing and food to the shimmering, sequinned slippers.
She started the bidding at $1.
It had reached $500 before Antoine realized she had no idea where the shoes were.
“In the middle of all of this, trying to make sure people are warm and have food, I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to find this ridiculous high-heeled shoe,” she said.
To her relief, another volunteer had tucked them away in a safe place.
“They are now in a secure and undisclosed location until bidding ends and their fate is revealed,” she said in a post to the Facebook page earlier this week.
Antoine declined to share the secret location of the shoes – and for good reason. By the time the auction closed, they were valued at $2,500.
“Isn’t that insane?” she said when the shoes broke the $1,000 mark on Friday.
“The funny thing is, my sister-in-law is here – she lives in Calling Lake, Alberta – and she involved her family and friends. Now it’s become a bidding war between team Dehcho and team Calling Lake for the bragging rights of who is going to win the golden slippers.”
The groups from Dehcho and Calling Lake pooled donations from their respective communities to outbid one another and drive attention to the cause.
The broader fundraising campaign, hosted by Patrick Scott on the website FundRazr, reached its goal of $50,000 on Friday morning. Scott previously told Cabin Radio he hopes to see it grow toward $200,000.
Antoine’s auction isn’t the only one pushing the total upward.
Another Facebook page, initially named Fort Simpson Support (May 2021) before being renamed to help Jean Marie River, is auctioning donated items for flood relief. A Virginia Falls day tour for nine donated by South Nahanni Airways drew bids of more than $3,000 by Friday afternoon.
Donations are funnelling into the communities of Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River. High water caused by the breakup of the nearby Liard River has flooded Fort Simpson homes and displaced more than 700 people, while Jean Marie River evacuated in its entirety last week.
Many displaced Jean Marie River residents are camping at the nearby Kelly Lake.
Antoine said her home in Fort Simpson is fine but others in her subdivision are living in tents on higher ground. She said donations are going a long way to help people in need – even the heels.
“It’s really just been kind-of fun, you know? A distraction from everything that’s going on,” she said.
“I’m hoping we’ll end up being able to give a good chunk of money to the fundraiser.”
The auction closed at 5pm on Friday.
“I just want to be clear,” said Antoine, “we’re so grateful for the support from all the communities and everything that’s been sent in.”