Ordinary Woman, Extraordinary Dreams
Thunder Bay, ON ------- February 17, 2014 – --- Ordinary Woman, Extraordinary Dreams, an inspirational documentary about the challenges faced by individuals and their families living with physical disabilities in remote northern communities, will be screened on Tuesday, February 18 at 1:00 p.m. Confederation College, Thunder Bay, Ontario, will present this free, public event in the Student Commons Area by SUCCI in the Shuniah building, 1450 Nakina Drive.
In attendance will be Maggie Sofea whose story is being told (with the expertise of Jim Hyder who directed Ordinary Woman, Extraordinary Dreams). Ms. Sofea is also featured in the documentary and acts as a collaborating director and co-writer.
This documentary tells the remarkable story of Maggie Sofea, a 23 year-old Anishinaabe (Aboriginal) woman who has used a wheelchair for the past 12 years as a result of a swimming injury. This injury occurred during her family’s annual camping trip outside Nibinamik (Summer Beaver), Ontario. Unable to live in her community (reserve) after her accident, Maggie has adapted to urban life in Thunder Bay, ON. The documentary follows Maggie's dramatic and challenging journey back home to Nibinamik, to the scene of her injury.
Maggie Sofea is a young woman - in her own words “an ordinary woman with extraordinary dreams.” One of her dreams is to become a filmmaker. Maggie says her goal with this film is “to reach the general public - but especially young people. I hope the film shows that nothing is impossible… follow your dreams.”
Director Jim Hyder notes that “this is a story on how difficult this trip will be…” Getting Maggie to Summer Beaver for filming was an extraordinary feat. The struggle and the uncertainty of being able to make the final leg of her journey by boat, is part of the story. The film touches on the high rates of suicide amongst aboriginal youth, an issue which has affected Maggie deeply. Over the years she has lost seven cousins to suicide, including Dawn Starr, who saved Maggie’s life the day of the accident.
Maggie is currently a Student in the final year of the Film Production Program at the college. Jeff Howie, the College's Manager of Learning Assistance had this to say about Maggie. "Maggie has an amazing attitude and spirit about her. She came to the College with a vision of what she wanted to do in her future. While Maggie has received the support of a number of College Staff it was evident that she was aware of the support she had from her Family and her home Community. The wonderful part of having Maggie at the College is that she has had such a powerful, and positive impact, on her classmates, Faculty and the entire College Community.”
David Shannon, Executive Director, said, “For over 30 years, Hagi has both inspired and raised awareness of the significant impact that persons living with disabilities make in Northwestern Ontario on a daily basis.” He went on to say, “This film says everything about our potential and new opportunities to support persons with a disability that are emerging across our region.”
Having made the trip with Maggie, Darren Lillington, Regional Services Coordinator, reflected, “Spinal Cord Injury Ontario has always been passionate about assisting individuals with spinal cord injuries to defy tragedy and build triumph in their lives. Personally, I was very moved to witness the profound impact of this work when, after over 11 years, Maggie was able to reconnect with her family, her community, the land, and her culture and traditions. It was incredibly heartwarming.”
The 92-minute documentary was produced by HAGI Community Services for Independence and SkyWorks Charitable Foundation in Toronto, ON. Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is a community partner in the project. Ordinary Woman, Extraordinary Dreams was made with the generous financial support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Wasaya Airways, the Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation and other organizations and individuals.
On March 18th, Lakehead University’s Aboriginal Initiatives and Aboriginal Cultural and Support Services will also be holding a screening at 7pm in the Agora as part of their Aboriginal Awareness Week.