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One particularly gloomy March day, I walked past the multitude of psychic shops on Yonge Street, with the SLC rearing its shiny head in the distance. A flash of neon lights, a promise of the future, stopped me in my tracks. I would soon learn that I am far from the first Ryerson student to be captivated in this way.
I decided to pop this original kernel of curiosity – which is what brought me to Giovanna’s last week. Giovanna’s Italian roots are apparent in her thick, dark hair and olive complexion. She preferred to remain surnameless, like Beyoncé or Rihanna. She is a third-generation psychic and has been sharing the bounty of her gift from this particular location on Yonge Street for the last 25 years. The waiting room is filled with eye-catching trinkets and a photo of Giovanna with a crystal ball, taken more than two decades ago.
“What I do is natural. I’m born with this, this is not something I studied. My grandmother used to read, a gifted psychic. She used to do reading in Italy back in the day then migrated to Canada,” where Giovanna has been selling her skill since. “I believe you have to be a strong person to do this.”
Giovanna’s 19-year-old daughter also had the gift passed down to her through the bloodline. “It’s brought our relationship so much closer,” Giovanna says. “We’re constantly together. We’re psychic mom and daughter, but we’re also best friends, so it’s a bonding experience at the end of the day.”
Cindy was home-schooled and has been developing this gift since she was nine years old. It began when her dreams began to come true within a day or two. Now, Giovanna and Cindy both see many clients pour through their doors, fresh from stressful exams, to have their tarot cards read, their chakras aligned, and their fortune distilled from a (surprisingly heavy) crystal ball.
While I am not what one would call a believer, the small space where Giovanna actually performs readings feels undeniably mystical. Filled with bookshelves of Catholic and new age icons alike, it is easy to feel yourself getting lost in the mystery of it all between the walls of rich burgundy wallpaper. She says her clients have brought these relics back from their travels around the world.
Still, I wonder, amidst a landscape of ever-changing storefronts, how Giovanna has managed to keep this prime real estate in her clutches. Perhaps, it’s because she’s telling worried Ryerson students exactly what they need to hear: their future will be OK.
“We get a lot of (students) in here. Especially the newcomers that are just starting university, they’re at a point in their lives where they’re soul searching,” Giovanna says. “They’re looking for their paths and they’re looking for a little bit of guidance… especially at the beginning of the school year and at the end.”
Giovanna says that many international students also come in with worries about their status in the country. “They wonder if they will find a job when they graduate and if it’s worth it for them to stay in Canada.”
While Giovanna says she tried to keep her prices reasonable, they will be rising due to upcoming renovations on her space. Her daughter is able to keep student discounts a bit lower at her own office on Dundas Street. Because she is so close in age to the students who come to her, she says that they are able to open up a little more about their love lives.
“At times girls come to me (when) they fall in love with somebody. They’ll ask me, ’Is this my soulmate? Is this my one?’” Cindy says. “At times, I do have to tell them, ‘No, you have not found your soulmate yet. This ain’t the person for you.’”
Cindy says that this is the hardest part of the job, like a doctor emerging into the waiting room to deliver the bad news to the family. She says it’s also the most rewarding part of the job, since she feels like she is saving all of us unwitting un-psychics from our fates.
At the end of the day, I get it. Which university student doesn’t want a little guidance, a little assurance that they’re making the right calls?
As for Ryerson-related predictions, Giovanna had quite a few. We threw some Rye-related words her way and here’s what she had to say:
Ryerson: “I feel good energy from the kids when they’re in here. The school itself, I see a lot of expansion over the next five years for them. It’s almost like they’re taking over the downtown core.”
The Raptors: “Great team but huge change coming up. We’re not going to see a big win for a few years now.”
Ryerson’s law school: “Huge expansion. Huge developments in 2021 right through to 2025. Huge expansions.”