Day 180 - Dee

Day 180 - Dee (1st person I approached)

June 29, 2014 - I was walking down the street after getting some groceries, and I was keenly aware of someone walking behind me. They were directly behind me so all my subtle tricks of using my peripheral vision and reflections in windows to see who it was, failed. I didn’t feel threatened, I was just curious. I’m a fast walker and this person was completely in step with me. I came to a stop at a crosswalk, and turned around to see Dee. I almost didn’t think about asking her to chat, I was intrigued with her tattoos, but I caught myself. She was more than happy to chat, so we crossed the street and sat on some stone steps at the side of the road and chatted. 


Dee was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario.

“I’m the youngest of three children. I have two older brothers who are twins. They’re eight years older than I am. I guess I was a bit of a tomboy growing up because I wanted to be like them so much. I thought they were cool and I wanted to hang around with them. Of course they didn’t want their little sister tagging along. Once I was older, we became a lot closer. It was kind of like ‘oh, you’re an adult now and you’re pretty cool, let’s hang out’ and we’re much closer than we were,” she said. Dee’s parents separated when she was a baby and her father lives in Switzerland.

“It was my mother, my brothers and me.” 


Dee went to elementary and high school in Brampton.

“I was always interested in the arts, and music and theatre. I played the trumpet in a school jazz band and then in high school I got right into the theatre program. I got involved in as much as I could. Then my interest shifted toward visual arts,” she said.

“I certainly went through a stage when I was a rebel and difficult in my teens. I didn’t want to answer to anyone and rebelled against any authority or even listening to anyone. My mother was very supportive, encouraging me to explore whatever I wanted. But that was probably the most difficult time in our relationship,” she said.

"As soon as I moved out to go to college, our relationship got right back on track. My mother is my best friend,” she told me. Once Dee had finished high school, she moved to Oakville, in southern Ontario to go to college.

“I took an Arts foundation program. It covered life-drawing, painting, sculpture and three dimensional design. And how to build and put together a portfolio. It was a good course. I also loved the sense of freedom of not living at home and making my own decisions,” said Dee. After college in Oakville, the plan was to move to Toronto and continue going to school.

“I got to Toronto and just took some time off from school. I worked as a server and just had fun and enjoyed living in ‘the big city’ before thinking about school again for a while,” Dee said. 


When the time came for Dee to look into school again, there had been some changes in the scheduling.

“I was all set to go in and study and work hard. I was taking all the practical stuff that I had missed out on when I was in high school. Like calculus and sciences, and English. Getting a good foundation, and upgrading my grades. There was a problem with the scheduling though and I was going to have to wait around a few months for it to get sorted. I had been in school for eight months at this point and I didn’t want to sit around waiting. I’m not very good at the whole patience thing. My mother had lived in BC (British Columbia) when she was younger and said she had really good memories of it. Everyone I had met from the west coast seemed great and I’d heard good things in general. So I decided I’d go for an adventure rather than waiting around in Toronto. I moved to Vancouver just two weeks ago,” she said, with a beaming smile. Dee is already working. She got a job in a highly reputable tattoo shop, working with the customers when they arrive.  Dee also takes care of setting up and clearing the stations where the tattooists work.

“I do the sterilizing and cleaning. I’ve thought for a time that I’d like to be a tattoo artist, but I just don’t have the patience. It takes a lot of training and drawing the same thing over and over again before you even get to do a tattoo. If I can’t get something right in the first couple of tries, then I lose interest," she said.


I asked Dee if she had friends or knew anyone here in Vancouver that inspired her to make the move.

“I know two people that live here. It feels good to make a decision and to move somewhere and not know many people. In Toronto I was always seeing people I know. It’s nice to start a new adventure. I’m very comfortable with who I am, I’ve got that all worked out. And so now, I’m on this new adventure. I’m loving it. It feels good to be here.” #notastranger