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Construction worker ferries pedestrians to dry land
Peter Hill helped several people avoid getting wet when 46 street was temporarily flooded last Thursday

James Goldie
Northern News Services
Wednesday, September 9, 2015

If being chivalrous means men should lay their coats over puddles so that women can keep their shoes dry, Peter Hill has just upped the ante for Yellowknife's would-be knights in shining armor.

NNSL photo/graphic

Peter Hill at work with a crew from NWT Construction, repairing a water main on 49 Avenue. On Thursday he carried pedestrian Jean Cardinal over a flooded street so she would not be late for work. - photo courtesy of Jean Cardinal

The construction worker from Sackville, Nova Scotia, carried pedestrian Jean Cardinal over a section of 46 Street on Thursday when repairs on a nearby water main flooded the street and left her trapped between home and the office. The construction was going on nextdoor to her apartment building, which meant she had had to find an alternate route to work that morning.

"I noticed that the sidewalk and the street were closed, so I had to detour down the alleyway and go through the park," she said. She arrived at Doornbos Park to discover water gushing down the sidewalk and into the street.

"I saw it and thought, 'Oh no! Crap!'" she said. "I had sandals on and wasn't prepared to go into a meeting with wet feet."

Cardinal, who works at Vision of Hope counselling former residential school students and their families, would have had to go home and get her car, which meant her options were to arrive late but dry, or on time but soaked to the knees.

That's when Hill appeared, carrying a couple of sandbags up the street.

"Hey, come here! I can help," he said, setting down his cargo. He offered to take her bag, then turned around and said, "Hop on."

For Cardinal, piggybacks were a thing from childhood.

"That just doesn't happen as an adult," she said, reflecting on the situation. She told him she was too heavy for such a ride but he said that was nonsense.

"Whatever fear I had, I thought: there's a reason for this. I just went on his back and couple seconds later I was on the other side of the water."

Once she was on dry land again, Hill went back to work and Cardinal was on her way, too.

"I was full of gratitude," she said.

And Cardinal wasn't the only person Hill assisted that morning. He and another worker from NWT Construction also helped a woman with two small children and a stroller cross the flooded street.

"We're always here to assist," he said. "The public always comes first."

Hill admitted it felt good to help the pedestrians like that.

"It's not every day you carry someone across the street," he said. But Hill also insisted there was nothing special about his desire to lend a hand.

"I just did what any guy would have done."

For Cardinal, the positive experience also taught her some important lessons.

"Be open to kindness of people and not always be on guard (of) strangers. Sometimes when in situations beyond your control, just be open to the kindness of others," she said.

Perhaps most importantly though:

"Chivalry is still alive!"

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