Basnicki sees his father Ken, whom he lost at 16 on September 11, reflected in his life to this day: ‘Apparently everything I do is similar to him,’ he says.

Brennan Basnicki with a photograph of her father, Ken, skiing in the sand (Photo by Lucy Lu).

This profile is part of a series called ‘Living in the Shadow of September 11’, which looks at how the world of five extraordinary people changed, twenty years later.

When Brennan Basnicki was a teenager, he met with a counselor from the University of Western Ontario to help him choose courses for the second year of his undergraduate degree. As they went through the classes she had enrolled in her freshman year, the guidance counselor paused to ask her what, exactly, her major was.

“Economics,” Basnicki said. The counselor replied, “Well, you didn’t take a freshman economics course.”

Looking back, Basnicki admits that he was probably not the best student at the time, but explains that he lacked guidance in his youth. “My dad would have been the person I would have asked for guidance, probably to this day,” says Basnicki, now 36. “There was no one in my family or friends to fill that void.”

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Basnicki was 16 when his father, Ken, was out of town for a conference on the 106th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. His mother, Maureen, never returned to her job as a flight attendant. Meanwhile, Brennan ended up moving all over the world, for work or school, from Ontario to Scotland, from Illinois to New York City, then to Portugal and finally back to Canada.

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His Western tuition was covered by the United States-based Freedom Families Scholarship Fund for children and spouses of 9/11 victims. He graduated with a degree in politics in the midst of the Great Recession and that’s when reality hit him hard, he says. “He really had nothing to offer the world in terms of education or experience.”

He left for Scotland a few years later, thanks in part to another college scholarship dedicated to the children of 9/11 victims, where he completed a master’s degree in investment analysis at the University of Sterling. That degree helped him land a job in Springfield, Illinois on the state’s teacher pension plan – a great job opportunity, he says, but for a single man in his 20s, “an undesirable place to live.” When he was offered a job in New York City three years later, he jumped at the opportunity.

Living near Ground Zero turned out to be “a little easier, or more normal, maybe,” Basnicki says. “Everyone dealt with 9/11 to a greater extent than people outside of New York.”

Her mother visited her almost every month, partly because of her volunteer work as a teacher at the Tribute Center. He has also been in advocacy work since 9/11, founding the National Day of Service Foundation of Canada and co-founding the Canadian Coalition Against Terrorism to help with victims of terrorist attacks. “His life is still centered around 9/11,” says Basnicki. “I can’t have dinner with her without her popping up, to be honest.”

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Meanwhile, living in New York rekindled Basnicki’s love of outdoor adventure, something he inherited from his father, be it kitesurfing, mountain biking, or skiing. “My mom and dad met on a beach in Collingwood, Ontario, where he was windsurfing.” Basnicki fondly remembered frequent ski trips with his parents and sister when they were younger, so he quit his job in New York City in 2018 for the European coast to launch an adventure travel search platform called Ripatrip. .

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“I was living in a Portuguese version of this stereotypical Silicon Valley start-up house,” he says. “We were starting to make good progress, but we ran out of money. COVID was the last nail in the coffin. He was on the penultimate flight from Portugal. ” Back in Canada, looking for a new job in the midst of a pandemic, his experience as an entrepreneur coupled with his investment experience helped him land a job at Canadian commodities trading company Auspice Capital. Basnicki notes that one of his first assignments at work was representing the company at a conference, something his father was doing on September 11.

“One comment I always get is that I am essentially an identical version of my dad, whether we look the same or act the same,” he says. “Apparently, everything I do is similar to him.”

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