The Facebook video is difficult to watch and hear, but a Moncton not-for-profit organization says it’s important to share to show the “harsh reality of homelessness.”
Early Wednesday morning, a garbage truck came to empty a dumpster at The Humanity Project property on Saint George Street.
Unbeknownst to the driver, a man was sleeping inside the bin, which was full of cardboard boxes. What follows in the video clip are panicked moments of screaming and yelling as the man tries to get the driver’s attention.
The man was later helped out of the truck by firefighters.
Moncton Fire Chief Conrad Landry said crews put a ladder inside the dumpster so the man could climb out.
“We’re happy that no one was injured but it could have been much worse,” Landry said.
“He was lucky in the aspect that normally, these trucks, after they have so many loads, they have a compactor built inside that automatically activates.”
The close call is what prompted The Humanity Project to post the video.
“After speaking with our friend who this happened to, we decided to release the video as a reminder to the public and government officials on the harsh reality of homelessness,” it said in a comment accompanying the clip.
“With the cold weather here and people being forced to find shelter wherever they can, we ask all garbage truck drivers to please check the dumpsters and give them a good shake before dumping them.”
Global News has spoken to The Humanity Project and reached out to Burrell, who was unavailable for an interview Friday.
The Facebook comment also said a similar incident happened in April 2020. In that case, 51-year-old Charles Pitre had been reported missing to police. According to RCMP at the time, some of his belongings were located near a dumpster in the downtown area, which led to a search of the Moncton landfill. His body was found about a week later.
Fire chief Landry said while a person getting picked up by a garbage truck is rare, the fire department does receive many calls of people sleeping in dumpsters, as well as setting fires in or near dumpsters to keep warm.
“These types of calls have already increased,” he said, referring to the arrival of colder temperatures. Landry said it would be ideal if businesses or apartments could check their dumpsters or lock them during certain days when pick-up is not happening.
The Humanity Project, however, is hoping people don’t have to resort to taking refuge in dumpsters. They’re repeating calls for government to provide more safe housing options.
“This is not the first time this has happened and won’t be the last unless things start to change,” Burrell wrote on the post.
“When you see someone on the streets, please be kind as the person you see already has it rough enough and one day you or someone you love could be in their shoes.”