2022 Street Stories

Saying goodbye to what-ifs and hello to goodbyes: Claudia Tétreault-Percy on finding home

Claudia Tétreault-Percy standing in front of the Goodbyes shopfront window.
Since finding purpose in her work and reconnecting with loved ones, Goodbyes Braddon store manager, Claudia Tétreault-Percy, finally feels at home in Canberra.

‘As much as you write your own story, I think your story is also written for you a little bit.’

Key points

  • Claudia temporarily moved home to Canberra from Texas in December 2019 and got stuck when the pandemic hit in March
  • Her five-year relationship ended after she realised she had been prioritising the wrong relationships in her life since reconnecting with loved ones over lockdown 
  • Working at Goodbyes in Braddon has helped cement her place in Canberra and sparked her excitement for the future

When Claudia Tétreault-Percy arrived home in Canberra from Texas in December 2019, she wasn’t planning on staying long. She had a partner to get back to and a life to figure out — and like the rest of us, a global pandemic wasn’t a part of the future she had envisioned.

She had been living in Austin since 2018 with her then boyfriend, a cinematographer she had met two years prior during her final year studying fashion marketing in Montreal, Canada.

Throughout their relationship the pair experienced bouts of long-distance, which over time had made it increasingly difficult to plan a life together.

The nature of his work meant that he was away a lot and though Claudia was able to pick up freelance gigs working in the Austin arts scene here and there, without a proper working visa, her partner took on the financial responsibility of the relationship.

Desperate for some financial independence and at a crossroads in the relationship, Claudia made the decision to come home to Canberra for a few months to find a job, save some money and gain some perspective on the direction of her life. 

‘[That decision] changed my life because I think there was a small part of me that was very excited to be on my own without him to figure out what that looks like, again,’ Claudia said.

Just as she was settling into her new job working at a local fashion boutique in Manuka, COVID-19 struck and Claudia’s plans were put on hold — and once again, so was her relationship.

After months of trying to make things work, Claudia realised the time and space the pandemic had put between them had seen the pair grow too far apart.

Claudia and her partner finally called it quits in July 2021.

Looking back on it now, Claudia says that lockdown gave her the chance to ‘reflect on what is really important.’

‘[The break-up] was the right thing because I don’t think I had been prioritising the right kind of relationships, like my family’s super important.’

During lockdown, Claudia had the opportunity to reconnect with the family and friends she had left behind since she first moved to Canada in 2014. 

‘Now that I’m surrounded with more people who I really care about and who care about me, that’s what feels like home and grounding.’

She now lives with two of her closest friends in Canberra’s southside and works full-time as store manager at Braddon’s favourite consignment store, Goodbyes. 

Finding direction in her career and being recognised for her capability have been major factors in her decision to stick around.

Like most Canberrans who venture off to find bigger and better things, Claudia has found her way back to the suburban bliss and balanced lifestyle of the bush capital.

Though she may not have expected her life to take the turns it has, at 28, Claudia has never been more excited about her future.

‘People come back here for reasons that maybe they don’t think are positive at first, but Canberra is the kind of place that I want to be long term and I never thought I’d be that person.’