Day 337 - Brianna

Day 337 - Brianna (3rd person I approached)
December 03, 2014 - This has happened to me a couple of times before, and it still surprises me each time. The first person I approached was sitting on some concrete stairs having a cigarette. I walked over and sat next to him to ask if he’d chat with me. Those were some cold concrete stairs. As I sat down he and I both looked at his pack of cigarettes in between us. As I spoke he reached over and picked them up and put them in his pocket. The first thought that ran through my head was ‘I don’t smoke,’ and then I realized that he thought I might be plotting to steal them. I guess there are people who might steal his pack of smokes. He didn't want to chat.


The second person I approached was a lovely Frenchman. In a very thick accent, he explained he didn’t speak much English, but if I was okay with that we could chat. His name was Johnathon, on account of his mother liking the foreign English spelling of ‘Jean.’ Then he said he’d prefer I didn’t take his photo. We shook hands and as I walked away, I wasn’t fully convinced he knew what had just happened.


I spotted Brianna as she was about to enjoy a slice of pizza. I asked if she’d chat with me. She said she thought it was an interesting idea, and that she’d be happy to chat. I told her my one caveat was that she had to make sure to eat while we chatted - I didn’t want her food to go cold. 


Born on the west side of Ottawa, Ontario, Brianna has one older brother. Like most siblings, she feels they are closer as adults than they were as children.

“I was quite academic in school. I played a lot of sports in high-school as well. I think it kind of balanced things out, and helped with the amount of energy I had as a teenager. I don't have that nowadays, but I used to play basketball, volleyball and badminton,” she said. 


“I was the first in our family to go to university. For a while, I wanted to be a teacher and I knew I’d have to go to university to do that. I went to the University of Ottawa (U of O), taking general arts for the first two years. Then I switched to a geography program. I took an extra year, staying in university for five years. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Geography,” she said.


During the last couple of years, Brianna had  few memorable summer jobs.

“I worked for Parks Canada, in Thousand Islands National Park (located in Ontario, at the northeastern corner of Lake Ontario). I was working with GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates, in the park. We monitored plant species in the wetland areas,” she said. After graduating, Brianna went to Saskatchewan for another summer job.

"I was working for Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. The job involved working with GIS (Geographic Information Systems). We gathered data for research and analysis.” 


Brianna moved to Vancouver at the end of summer to attend BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology).

“I had met a few people during my work placements in university who were from Vancouver. They had mentioned the GIS program, and there’s not a lot of places that offer courses. When I looked into BCIT’s course, it was exactly what I wanted to do. In Saskatchewan there was a young woman from BC that was working with me at Agriculture Canada. She helped me to find a place here and get settled,” she said. I asked how Brianna’s parents felt about her moving to BC.

“They’re supportive. And they miss me, especially my mother. She grew up in an Italian family, and had different expectations from her family while growing up. She has always been supportive of me doing the things I wanted to do.”


In January, Brianna starts her first work experience placement for the GIS course she’s currently taking.

“I’ll be working with an environmental group, which I’ve never done before. It should be interesting to see what happens,” she told me. Since coming to Vancouver, Brianna hasn’t had much time to explore beyond the boundaries of the city.

“I’m hoping to see a bit more of the province in the next little while. I have a friend that lives on Vancouver Island, so I’m hoping to see some of the island soon.” 


As for the future, Brianna is uncertain.

“I’ve always been one to have things planned out and know what is going to happen next. This time is different. I don’t know what I’m doing after May of next year. Whether I’ll stay in BC or go back to Ottawa. It was hard at first, but I’m getting more comfortable and okay with the idea of not knowing what’s next,” she said, with a smile. 


I said thank you to Brianna for sharing her story with me and took her picture. She told me she had enjoyed the chat and was looking forward to checking out my project. I noticed the lid on Brianna’s small food container was closed. It was at this point I realized that she hadn’t even touched her dinner. Cold pizza. #notastranger