Why an international student in Winnipeg made a PowerPoint on winter boots

For newcomers like Prateek Malhotra, picking the right pair of boots to tackle snow, slips and sub-zero temperatures while staying on budget can be a nightmare.

Malhotra, who came to Manitoba from India in September to study at the University of Winnipeg, says he visited about eight stores in 25 days trying to solve the mystery of the right winter boot .

He interviewed the sales people. He tried several brands. He couldn’t afford to be wrong.

“You buy a shoe at such a high price. You can’t buy it over and over again, especially at a time when we don’t have as many funds available,” Malhotra said in an interview with CBC.

His diligence paid off. He finally found the perfect pair of boots and was able to continue walking the four kilometers he walks every day to and from his part-time job, even under repeated warnings of extreme weather and snowfall. massive in Winnipeg this month.

Later in the session, when he received an assignment to present to his class on a topic of his choice, he immediately knew what he wanted to share: what to know when buying his first pair of winter boots.

His goal was to sum up all the things he had done, he said, “so that all those students… like me, who had come from abroad” could “make a wise decision.”

WATCH | Why Prateek Malhotra wanted to help other international students:

Newcomers solve the mystery of the right winter boot

For many people from warmer countries, one of the toughest challenges is finding the best boots to buy for their first winter. 3:00

Rosheedat Adeniji found out how difficult footwear decisions can be here after arriving in Canada from Nigeria with her husband and three children last March.

“I didn’t know what to buy,” Adeniji said.

She kept hearing about the winter, but she says the warm Winnipeg summer troubled her.

When it was time to shop this winter, she says she went to the store and “grabbed some boots” for herself and her kids.

But after the first day of snow, she knew the equipment was wrong. She had frostbite and fell twice.

Her children also complained.

“[When] my children came home from school, they were just lamenting that [was] a really bad thing for them to buy because the snow actually got into their boots,” she said.

Rosheedat Adeniji, who works with the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute, showing off her new boots. She says she got frostbite and slipped after buying the wrong kind of boots. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Adeniji then sought advice from friends and did extensive research online. It was then that she discovered that most boots had temperature ratings – manufacturers’ guidelines for how well they would withstand the cold.

She realized that the boots she had bought for the children were too low, so she went back to shopping and asked sales representatives for help in finding better boots.

Adeniji says she didn’t slip or get cold in her new boots and her children are now enjoying recess at school.

It’s an experience that helps her bond with other newcomers as Donation and Volunteer Coordinator for the Canadian Institute of Muslim Women.

She says the non-profit organization distributes around 50 boots a month to people in need.

Options for newcomers with language difficulties

For the foreseeable future, a significant number of people across Canada will likely have to wrestle with the same shoe questions as Malhotra and Adeniji every year.

This is because the number of immigrants to Canada is booming. Last year, 401,000 people have become permanent residents — the highest number in a single year, according to the federal government. Goals for this year and 2023 are even higher.

For newcomers, finding the right clothes can be essential in a climate like Manitoba’s, where the cold can be deadly in extreme situations.

While Malhotra and Adeniji eventually got help from sales representatives, Yasmin Ali, president of the Canadian Institute of Muslim Women, said that may not be an option for all newcomers.

“A lot of them don’t speak English, so it’s very difficult for them to just walk into the store and ask for winter boots,” Ali said.

Prateek Malhotra bought winter boots in Winnipeg last November. While he was able to get help from sales reps, that may not be an option for newcomers who don’t speak much English, says Yasmin Ali, president of the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute. (Submitted by Prateek Malhotra)

Ali says that until these immigrants connect with members of their community, they can get help through settlement agencies like his, where many staff speak their native language.

“It’s so much easier to talk about your needs…and the staff can easily advise them based on their lived experience,” she said.

Geoff Fernie, senior scientist at the KITE Research Institute – a Toronto lab that focuses on improving the lives of people affected by disability, illness and aging – advises newcomers to take a science-based approach to shopping.

This includes using the boot notes posted on KITE’s ratemytreads.com website, which presents the results of scientific tests carried out on boots.

Although Toronto isn’t as cold as the Prairies, Fernie is confident the research findings apply.

“I can assure you that even though Winnipeg is unusual, the ground with snow and ice in Winnipeg is similar…to Toronto,” he said.

Geoff Fernie, senior scientist at the KITE Research Institute, recommends buyers do their research before buying. “There is no direct relationship between the quality of the boot and its cost,” he says. (Radio Canada)

Fernie warns newcomers to make prevention a priority. Slipping in the winter is a major contributor to loss of mobility for people, he says.

This is something that could be of particular concern in Manitoba, which faces a huge backlog of surgeries – and many newcomers lack the support network to be out of work for an extended period if they have to recover from a bad fall.

Using boots that have been proven in research can significantly reduce the risk of falling, Fernie says.

The KITE website can also help you with your shopping, as it finds that high prices don’t always mean good quality.

“There is no direct relationship between the quality of the boot and its cost,” Fernie said.

Consider size, socks, situation

Rich Hildebrand, director of retail operations at Canadian Footwear, says that when shopping for a boot, the first thing to consider is the shoe size.

“Boots that are too tight will lead to cold feet,” he said.

This is especially important when shopping for children, as their feet grow rapidly.

Rich Hildebrand works with Winnipeg shoe retailer, Canadian Footwear. He says buyers may need to consider factors like support and weight, as well as warmth. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Hildebrand says one way to ensure a fit for kids is to remove the liner from the boot and have the child try it on. There should be at least an inch of space in the front of the boot to trap air, which helps keep feet warm.

“We know if the liner fits, the boot will fit,” Hildebrand said.

Bad socks are another overlooked cause of cold feet. Wearing the wrong first layer, like cotton socks, “is like having a damp bath towel around your feet,” Hildebrand said.

Buyers also need to consider what they will be doing on a daily basis. Someone outside for a long time will need more insulation than someone just commuting from their car to work, Hildebrand says.

However, heat is not necessarily everything.

The warmest shoes might not be the most supportive, he says, and might be too heavy.

“Someone who walks a lot will want to go for a more of a hiking style with a bit more support in the back. More like a lace-up boot style,” he said.