Jocelynn Johnson is a Geospatial Analyst for the Government of Manitoba. She is a graduate of both Red River College and the University of Manitoba (BSc), and is currently pursuing a third degree. After becoming completely Deaf due to meningitis as a child she became the first child in Manitoba to receive a Cochlear Implant but had to have it removed several years later due to medical complications – as a result, she has gone between existing in the hearing world, the Deaf world, and the grey area in-between. At TEDxWinnipeg on June 13th she’ll help us gain a better understanding of why service animals are not a pet project.

We sat down with Jocelynn to ask her a few questions to get to know her a bit better:

1. Why are you excited to speak at TEDxWinnipeg?

I have loved TED and TEDx Talks for years, they are inspiring, educational and sometimes just downright entertaining.  I always feel that I have learned something new from each talk I watch and the opportunity to be part of this from the other side is amazing!

2. How did you come up with your idea, and how did you develop it into something shareable?

Living with an invisible disability, I have always fielded questions about the logistics of how I live my life by people that I interact with.  Once I brought my service dog into this life, my disability was suddenly on display for any passerby to judge and comment on. People are really curious, but at the same time are very unsure and often make a situation much more complicated than it needs to be.  Educating strangers on service animals has become second nature to me.

3. Who’s going to play you in the movie of your life?

Shoshannah Stern, a fantastically talented Deaf actress who, like me, bridges the world of the hearing and the Deaf.

4. What is your greatest fear?

I would love to say something profound here, but honestly? Spiders.  Any fear can be dealt with and learned from, but spiders keep showing up when you least expect them!

5. What’s your connection to Winnipeg, or Manitoba?

I moved here from British Columbia when I was 2, and have lived in or around Winnipeg since then. I’m an alumni of University of Manitoba (Geological Sciences) and Red River College (Web Development). I’ve worked in several Government of Manitoba departments and have since found a home in the Department of Sustainable Development as a Geographic Information Systems Analyst.  I chair several networking groups including Manitoba Service Dogs group, Civil Servants with Abilities Network (CSWAN), and the non-profit Manitoba GIS users Group (MGUG).

6. When and where were you happiest?

I was fortunate enough to intern for several months at the Smithsonian Institute: National Museum of Natural History in the Mineral Sciences department.  This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life being immersed in the museum collections behind the scenes.  I learned hundreds of new things every day, and for a life-long learner like myself, that was complete bliss.

7. What TED Talk do you think everyone should see?

“I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much”, by Stella Young.  People often compare themselves to those with disabilities doing everyday things in the frame of “well if she can do it, what’s stopping me?”  As if doing something simple and mundane is cause for celebration just because you have a disability.  People with disabilities are just living their lives much like anyone else, and Stella Young really brings the point home that we should treat people with disabilities equally and normalize disability so much that having a teacher or co-worker in a wheelchair is not a cause for shock and awe.