Creating social change through business
Michelle Derosier accepts the NADF businesswoman award.
The 2012 Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund businesswoman of the year enjoys working with community members and organizations to improve life for First Nations people.
“The purpose for me for creating Thunderstone (Pictures) was to be able to first of all tell stories but also to be able to create social change within our community,” said Michelle Derosier, co-owner of Thunderstone Pictures and an Eagle Lake First Nation band member. “And to be able to contribute to our community in a meaningful way.”
Derosier founded Thunderstone Pictures in partnership with Dave Clement in 2006. The company has since created three full-time jobs and about 30 part-time jobs.
“Over the past six-and-a-half years we have expanded to doing more corporate and commercial work,” Derosier said. “We have the opportunity to work with (organizations) like the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority or different organizations and groups in the community and region.”
Thunderstone Pictures has created 18 films over the past six years and won 20 international awards for editing, cinematography and directing.
“I feel very honoured,” Derosier said. “We’ve had a lot of really great opportunities over the last few years and our business has really taken off. But more importantly, we’ve established a good reputation in the community and in the region — one that’s based on respect and understanding.”
Derosier is proud of the work Thunderstone Pictures did in partnership with SLFNHA on the documentary film, The Life You Want.
“It was a story with Doris Slipperjack on the prescription drug abuse epidemic that was happening in Eabametoong First Nation,” Derosier said. “Since that time we have witnessed the power that story can have, not only just in the community but also in the region and actually, internationally as well.”
Derosier said the story was broadcasted around the world by BBC, an international broadcaster from Britain, after BBC reporters visited Eabametoong and produced a story.
Another film by Derosier described how her family is working to reclaim their family heritage as wild rice harvesters on her family’s traditional wild rice lake.
“I benefit so much from every story, but that story even more so because it was very close to my heart and my family and my community,” Derosier said. “But it’s the same with any project that we embark on, there’s the ripple effect that it has. When you tell a story from the heart, respectfully with integrity, you never know where that is going to go.”
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