photo: Facebook (from left) James Hektner, Chelsea McEvoy, Samantha Baxter and Shawn Baxter

Kelowna director turns camera on herself to break taboos

The director and her partner hope to break the stigma against life in a wheel chair in documentary

A local director has turned the camera on herself and her partner.

Chelsea McEvoy and James Hektner have been together for five years and have turned to modern medicine to expand their family.

Hektner is an active T6/7 paraplegic and is the president of Accessible Okanagan and they have been trying to have a baby for two years. The couple are making their private struggle public to break the stigma against infertility and being in a chair. The pair, along with their crew, travelled to Vancouver numerous times to the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre.

“It’s very taboo, too … talking about sex with disabilities,” said McEvoy. “That is a stigma we are trying to break in this documentary.”

The director also co-writes a blog with friend, Samantha Baxter who is married to Shawn who is a T4 incomplete paraplegic. The duo wanted to create something that was focused on the partners because they felt everything on the internet was focused on the person in the chair. When searching online they couldn’t find the advice they were looking for to make sure their relationships flourished.

“We wouldn’t want to share these very intimate and personal stories about ourselves without wanting to educate people. I personally don’t like writing about my personal life, but if it’s going to break the stigma for someone else, I mean if I’m not going to, who is?” said McEvoy.

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Now they have readers all over the world and a group of friends they meet with regularly called a Wheel Love Wind Down where more than 10 women, all with partners in chairs get together, trade stories, tips and tricks.

“We are all connected, the wheelchair connects us all,” said McEvoy.

Through all of these different portals, McEvoy hopes that through the stigma against people that use wheelchairs will dissipate.

“People just don’t know what they don’t know,” said McEvoy.

The most common misconception McEvoy experiences when she and Hektner are together is that people assume she is his caregiver or that she is doing him a favour by dating him.

“I definitely don’t date him to do him a good service, in ways he is my caregiver, he picks up after me,” she said.

To create a more dynamic documentary, McEvoy is also turning the camera onto her friends relationships. Interviewing them about their lives and raising children together.

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“I only want one (child) but my friends have multiples where their partner is in a chair. That is one part I am really excited to bring into the film as well. They are kind of the narrator to our story and I am learning so much from them,” said McEvoy.

Hearing her friend’s stories on camera has settled any nerves that she has about having a child, their lives have shown her that it is 100 per cent possible to have a loving and long marriage with children with Hektner.

“I have fears and James has fears, but they may not be different than any parent. Everyone has fears, able-bodied or not. We are all going on the same journey, I have learned there is no manual to having children. We are all winging it,” said McEvoy.

The documentary is set to be released in Spring 2019.

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