A Voice For Change: The Laura Hillier Story Review
By Ashley Maniw (August 8th, 2018)
Directed by: Sarah Gonyea
Produced by: Sean Cullen
Written by: Alex Brown, Sarah Gonyea, Lia Williamson
The best documentaries help the audience live in another person’s shoes. They connect us to someone elses’ life experience, open our eyes and our hearts, and inspire us to do better. The short doc A Voice For Change: The Laura Hillier Story directed by Sarah Gonyea accomplishes all of those things in a short amount of time. It’s a tough documentary to get through because of the subject matter, but it’s also because of its subject that makes it such an important film to watch.
Laura Hillier was a young woman who was unable to get a stem cell transplant that would have saved her life. The documentary shines a light on the gaps in the Canadian healthcare system that lead to her death as well as her legacy and activism. Even while she was sick, Laura was trying to change the healthcare policies that failed her to ensure that others did not have to go through the pain that she did.
It’s a moving, heartbreaking portrait of a young woman poised for so much more whose life was cut too short because of a lack of funding and care. What makes it all the more important and poignant is its timeliness. The fight to ensure that everyone has healthcare coverage is being fought in many countries currently. The doc is a harsh reminder of how much needs to be done, by us, to ensure that we’re all taken care of. Even in a country like Canada where healthcare is funded and accessible, there are still people falling through the cracks because of a lack of facilities and treatment options. Laura had a donor lined up, but there were so many people who needed a transplant that she was put on a waiting list. She was unable to receive the treatment she desperately needed because of a lack of facilities available to provide these transplants.
While Laura’s story enacted change, there still isn’t a permanent solution. The Ontario government did act and there’s now funding to help patients with blood cancers receive the transplants they need to survive. However the fact that Laura, who was only 18, had to endure a waiting list when she had a donor hangs heavy over the documentary - a life was still lost and something could have been done at the time to save her.
It’s a moving documentary and one that has power to inspire change within the healthcare system. It shows that there’s no action too small that can affect change; that there’s no cause or issue too unimportant. Talking about things, even when they’re sad or emotional, is the only way to ensure that tragedies don’t continue to happen.
By learning about the inspiring work of others, we also learn how to be more compassionate, to see the suffering of others even when it’s very different from our own and strive to do better for people like Laura – those that society forgets or doesn’t know about until it’s too late. These issues need to be discussed and listened to so that we can all motivate ourselves to demand action and find a way to take better care of each other.
- Ashley Maniw