University of Calgary

From the borders of Carway to Durban

Submitted by tdroden on Sat, 01/15/2011 - 16:10.

From the borders of Carway to Durban

Christine Bradley is keeping shipments safe 
at the busiest port in South Africa
By Tatiana Tomljanovic

As part of her travels in Africa, Christine Bradley went to KwaZulu-Natal Province and watched traditional Zulu dancers perform. (Photo by Claude Bergeron)As part of her travels in Africa, Christine Bradley went to KwaZulu-Natal Province and watched traditional Zulu dancers perform. (Photo by Claude Bergeron)

Rather than halt her in her tracks, borders crossings have taken Christine Bradley, BA'00, around the world.

In the late '90s, criminology student Bradley (nee Millar) aspired to become an RCMP officer. That changed the summer she landed a job in border control at the Carway, Alberta—Piegan, Montana border crossing through a federal student work experience program.

"I was hooked," she says. "There was always something happening. One time I was searching through a motorhome and this guy had a jar of his mother's ashes. He carried it around with him everywhere."

The crazy characters and odd paraphernalia that came across the Canada-U.S. border convinced Bradley that a life in customs law enforcement was for her. While still in school, she applied for a full-time seasonal position as a customs inspector with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). She got it and worked at the Alberta-Montana border crossing until graduating in 2000.

Bradley left Alberta and transferred to Vancouver. She worked in port control for the CBSA for a couple of years before heading to the nation's capital where dozens of international opportunities awaited her working for the federal government.

"There's a lot of opportunity in Ottawa," she says.

And Bradley loves to travel. She's spent time in Honduras and El Salvador combating narcotics trafficking. She's collaborated with Interpol in Lyon, France helping to track and analyze online child pornography activity. Currently, she is working in South Africa.

As far as she has gone, Bradley says most of her globetrotting can be traced back to her classrooms in the Earth Sciences, Science A and B, and Murray Fraser Hall buildings. International law piqued her interest in world affairs; geography courses gave her solid knowledge of countries, cities and ports; even math, Bradley's least favourite subject, now factors into her work.

"I'm not really a math person," she admits. "But I had to take statistics while in school and it helps now. I used it with online child pornography investigations. We looked at large amounts of data and needed to analyze and make sense of that information."

Three years ago, Bradley packed her bags and moved to Durban, home to the biggest and busiest port in South Africa. Still employed by the CBSA, she works with the South African Revenue Service (customs) and the South African Police Service to assess the potential risk of all shipments leaving South Africa for Canada. She also provides training and capacity building to customs and other law enforcement personnel in southern Africa.

Although South Africa is "a lot different than Canada," it didn't take long for Bradley to feel at home. "I felt quite comfortable early on."

At least a small part of that is due to Bradley's husband, an engineer she met only a few months after moving to Durban. The two of them travelled to Calgary this past summer—the first trip to Canada for Andrew—and were married in Bradley's parent's backyard with her family. Her identical twin sister Alison, BA'99, also a sociology major, was in attendance.