New documentary a work of resilience


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Finishing their documentary film took a whole lot of resilience from filmmaker and Wolseley resident Kevin Nikkel and the team at Reaching E-Quality Employment Services (REES), an organization that helps connect people with physical disabilities and health conditions with employment.

That’s not why the film about REES’s work is called Resilience, but it does sum up what it meant to begin planning a documentary just as a pandemic swept over the country.

Filmmaker Kevin Nikkel explores the work of non-profit Reaching E-Quality Employment Services in his new documentary Resilience.

But Nikkel and his subjects prevailed and will be premiering the film at an open house at the REES office, located at 305-1200 Portage Ave., on Sept. 21 between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to join, free of charge.

Nikkel said working on the project enlightened him to some of the challenges that others must face daily.

“My life, in many ways, is quite insulated from the world of disability… but I welcomed the opportunity to begin the process of talking with people and trying to understand what these challenges are like. I think that was something that I really benefited from through the process,” Nikkel said.

Nikkel said he hopes the film will help others learn as he did.

“The point behind it is to construct a conversation about issues like that, and to increase the conversation around the challenges that people are facing with disabilities and particularly in regards to finding work, because that’s what REES is about. It’s trying to help people find employment,” he said.

The film is the result of a program through the Winnipeg Arts Council, in which filmmakers submit to being paired with their subjects, rather than choosing the subjects themselves.

“It’s like a blind date that way on the artist’s side,” Nikkel laughed.

Lisa Dabrowski, executive director of REES, said the organization chose Nikkel after inviting him in for an interview.

I welcomed the opportunity to begin the process of talking with people and trying to understand what these challenges are like.

“You could see his interest level, and he was curious. As we were talking, I could almost see the vision coming into his head and what this might end up being,” she said.

Dabrowski commended Nikkel’s work and said: “He definitely captured the spirit of REES and the work that we do and the people that we work with.”

She encouraged people to come to the open house and said it’s important people have greater awareness of the challenges present for people with physical disabilities and health conditions, as the barriers those demographics face often lead to decreased visibility in the community.

“The reality is we need to look beyond the disability and beyond any health conditions to their abilities. It’s about their abilities and their skills and questioning, what can you do, not what can’t you do,” she said.

Cody Sellar

Cody Sellar
Community Journalist

Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at or call him at 204-697-7206.

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