Ordinary Woman, Extraordinary Dreams

SkyWorks Charitable Foundation, Maggie Sofea and Jim Hyder

2013, 91:00 minutes, colour, English, Closed Captioned


Ordinary Woman, Extraordinary Dreams is the inspiring story of Maggie Sofea, a young woman who was paralyzed in a diving accident when she was 11 years old. Maggie grew up in Nibinamik (“Summer Beaver”), a remote First Nations community in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Maggie remembers her early years, playing with cousins and going on camping trips by boat with her family where she learned traditional customs and developed a close connection to nature and the land. As a result of her injury, Maggie and her family had no option but to leave her home community and move to Thunder Bay where she could access necessary medical care and support. Although she needs help from others to take care of her personal needs, Maggie is an independent spirit. One of her dreams is to revisit Summer Beaver to reconnect with her family and community, and to confront the scene of her accident which changed her life.

The film follows Maggie, her mother, Janet, and a team of support workers as they set out to make her dream a reality. We follow their journey as they face the physical challenges of getting Maggie to Summer Beaver, and ultimately to the remote campsite which is a one-hour motorboat ride away from the community. To accomplish this, Maggie must first overcome her own fears: about being lifted without mechanical lifts, sleeping in unfamiliar beds, and travelling to places that are far away from the nearest hospital. The journey is also an emotional and spiritual one, as Maggie reconnects with her grandmother, Georgina, and with tragedies that have deeply affected her community in her absence. These include a plane crash in which members of her family died, and the suicides of seven cousins – one of whom, Dawn Starr, helped save Maggie’s life when she had her accident.

Ordinary Woman, Extraordinary Dreams shows the challenges faced by individuals living with physical disabilities in isolated northern communities. But above all, it is a story of courage, determination, and hope. The film challenges expectations and perceptions of what people with disabilities are able to accomplish. Says Darren Lillington, a member of Maggie’s support team who works with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, “Some people want to approach things with the idea that it’s just not possible, and often times it is very much possible with the right supports in place. As we’ve seen throughout this project there were not many things that we couldn’t do if we just approached it with the right attitude.”

This film is suitable for a variety of audiences, including: people with a spinal cord injury or other disabilities, their families and care providers; First Nations; people living in remote communities, policy makers and service providers serving these communities; health professionals, medical and nursing schools; people working in areas of human rights, disability rights, and aboriginal rights; youth, educators, and social workers working in the area of youth suicide prevention; and members of the general public.

For all audiences watching this film, especially young people struggling with barriers and obstacles in their lives, Maggie has a clear message: “I hope the film shows that nothing is impossible… follow your dreams.”


Directed by: Jim Hyder
Collaborating Director: Maggie Sofea
Produced by SkyWorks Charitable Foundation

Chaptered, with scene selection menu, for educational use.

This film and accompanying support materials have been produced in partnership between HAGI Community Services for Independence, SkyWorks Charitable Foundation, and Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.

User guide, transcript, and resources are available online at:

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