“I always wanted to be a police officer.”
Sandra Brynjolfson grew up with a dream of becoming a police officer. As a young adult, she lived in Vancouver, B.C. She spent a lot of her time volunteering at the Vancouver Police Department, victim services. After gaining some experience as a volunteer, she took a leap and handed in her application to the RCMP. It was a vigorous two-year application process. “When I finally got to the final interview with the big Kahuna, I was deferred for lack of post-secondary education.” With a heavy heart and shattered dreams, Sandra took a step back, regrouped, and did some soul searching, which lead her to the trades.
“At first, I wanted to be a carpenter.”
Sandra was familiar with construction, and she enjoyed building things. She grew up on a farm, her dad was constantly in need of an extra hand, and Sandra made sure she was always there to help him. She decided to visit different schools and explore the different programs they offered. “Even though I thought I wanted to be a carpenter because I like to build things, I started looking at the electrical trade.” Sandra’s grandfather, uncle, and cousin were all electricians. As she says, “electrical was in the family.” Sandra was in her mid thirty’s when she decided to give electrical ago. She brushed up on her math, took the exam, and got in. “I got into entry-level trades training in 1999. I was the only woman in the class. I was old enough to be anyone’s mother in that class. It was awkward, but I befriended a core group of those young men, and we are still friends to this day. I leaned on them for their fresh minds from high school math, and they leaned on me for world and life experience.”
“The reason I went for electrical was that it is so multifaceted. Right from communications, security, fiber optics, right up to the big six-inch bus for distribution of hydro-electric.”
Much to her surprise, Sandra moved up the rank and file quite quickly within the electrical world. She became a maintenance electrician for the Electrical Arts. “I remember the owner of the company calling me one day and asking if I was interested in staying on, running jobs, and becoming a foreman (chargehand). Little did they know, I was still an apprentice at the time.” One of Sandra’s most significant accomplishments was building the Canada line, Sea Island sky-train station, one kilometer from Vancouver’s international airport. “That was my project, and I built that from the ground up. Blood, sweat and tears, DNA, everything is in that building. Anytime I’m out that way and drive by it, I know it intimately. It’s one of my favourite stories and favourite accomplishments.” Sandra also played a role in an extensive renovation at the Queen Elizabeth theater, downtown Vancouver. “I was running conduit up to the backstage area, and they had this thirty-foot-tall staircase that went up to where the stagehands hung out. I got up and was looking for an outlet to get some lighting. When I got to this back wall, I found all these signatures from the stars and performers who had performed at the Queen Elizabeth theater! I recognized a few, and I remember looking and just thinking, “WOW, this is so cool!” It was like a little treasure I had found. Right beside my junction box, I signed my name too.”
“They call it a journey for a reason. You have no idea where it will lead you!”
Sandra started out wanting to be a police officer, entered in the trades and then into high voltage. “The coolest part of my journey was when the universe came full circle to me. My boss offered me this “special project,” and what it was, was looking for power theft. I was a Forman on that project. There were thirteen teams, province wide. We were electricians who worked with retired police officers, patrolling the grid lines.” In the end, Sandra’s dreams did come true. She worked well with the police and became an important asset. Soon after, Sandra dubbed herself “the forensic electrician.”
Written by: Savannah Davis, ClearWater Communications Co.