Day 267 - Susan (1st person I approached)
September 24, 2014 - Susan was sitting in a quiet green space, just off the beaten track. You can see a section of the north shore mountains between the buildings, from the bench she was sitting on. She had a few bags of groceries on the bench next to her, and it appeared that she was having a little mid-afternoon break. I approached Susan and asked if she would chat with me. She said that my project sounded very interesting and gave an enthusiastic
“Yes of course I will.”
“I was born in Haida Gwaii, or the Queen Charlotte Islands (British Columbia - BC) as it was called then. We lived in Sandspit (BC) but my mother went to Queen Charlotte City to give birth as that was the nearest hospital,” Susan said.
“And then she brought me home on a little ferry boat.” Queen Charlotte City is about twenty-six kilometres by land and boat to Sandspit. Susan’s father was an air traffic controller at the small airport located in Sandspit.
“I have an older sister and brother, and a younger sister. My sister is fourteen years older than I am, my brother is twelve years older and then my younger sister is two years younger. So there was quite an age difference between us as kids,” she said.
“We moved around a fair bit. In part for my father’s work, but mostly because my mother liked to move,” said Susan, with a cheerful smile.
“We also lived in Ashcroft, Richmond and Vancouver. Then we moved to Prince Rupert and lived there for a few years. I remember Prince Rupert more than the earlier places. We lived there until I was nine,” she said.
“My mother, along with my younger sister and I, moved to Hemel Hempstead, in England when I was nine. My parents were separating and the older two stayed here in Canada with my father. My older sister was in university and their lives were established here. I got to meet all of my other relatives that were in England, and we stayed with my uncles, my mother’s brothers,” she said. Before leaving Canada, Susan had excelled in school and had been moved ahead by two grades.
“In England, they figured there was no way I could have possibly had a better education in Canada, so they moved me back a grade. Adjusting to school in England was difficult. The children singled me out for being Canadian and it was a challenging adjustment to make,” she said.
“I had won two awards, one in Canada and one in England for my penmanship. Then my teacher decided that I was holding my pen incorrectly. I was to be held in detention until I learned to hold it the way the teacher deemed to be correct,” said Susan.
“Well, my mother even took me to the Doctors, I shall never forget it. We sat in the Dr’s office and he asked my mother why we were there, then he pulled out his pen. He held his pen even worse than I did. My mother’s face was all flushed. Looking back, it makes me laugh,” she said.
Susan did well in school, finishing her regular secondary schooling with six ‘O’ levels. These were subject-based qualifications conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education (GCE).
“I was then to go Dacorum College in Hemel Hempstead as an advanced preparation for Oxford or Cambridge University. I had been studying Latin as well, it was required for entrance to Oxford and Cambridge. The college would be an opportunity for me to experience learning at a higher level. I’d complete further exams and then go on from there in two years,” said Susan.
“My mother had remarried and she and my stepfather decided to come to Canada for a six week vacation. It was nice to see my siblings and my father while we were here. When we returned to England, I had missed the start date for college. I was told I could wait and enter college the following year,” she said.
“Instead, I got a job working in a solicitor’s office. My mother had moved to Nottingham and I stayed with my aunt and uncle in Hemel Hempstead. My little sister had been asking me to come live there, and eventually I did move to Nottingham. I got a job working in the civil service (government) working in social services,” said Susan.
When she was twenty years old, Susan moved back to Canada, arriving in Vancouver.
“I had really thought about staying in England. I have all my relatives there and I had quite a large circle of friends, but I decided to come back to Canada. My older sister and brother both had their own families and it was nice to have a chance to spend time with them. And of course, to be nearer my father again,” she told me. Susan has spent many years working in Community Development.
“I was engaged a couple of times, but never got married. I’m very involved within my neighbourhood, she said. Susan helps to organize two of her communities largest annual events. The Collingwood Days Festival is a week long, neighbourhood multicultural fair. Susan is also invoked in the organization of the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival. It’s a harvest festival, and a Lantern Parade that culminates in the community celebrating nature and abundance. There is a tea garden with musical performances, and entertainment. (*Fact Check - See links below).
“I like to be involved, to be a part of the community. I volunteer a lot and do what I can, to give back. My mother is in her eighties and still active and involved. We do things together and it’s a great way to be connected. That’s very important to me, to feel connected, to my neighbourhood, and the community. It’s really the best way that I feel I can make a difference. And helping others, helps me as well.” #notastranger
*Fact Check - http://www.collingwooddays.com
**Fact Check - http://bit.ly/Zeb1lu
*** Fact Check - http://www.askcentre.ca