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Bonnie Sherr Klein

Bonnie Sherr Klein began her career as a freelance documentary filmmaker in New York in the 1960’s after obtaining a BA from Barnard College and an MA in Communications at Stanford University. She immigrated to Canada with her husband as Vietnam War resisters in 1967, and began a long career of activist filmmaking with the National Film Board of Canada, where she was a key member of the innovative Challenge for Change Programme and later the historic women’s unit, Studio D. Her award-winning films include the series ORGANIZING FOR CHANGE: THE ALINSKY APPROACH; VTR-ST. JACQUES (the first experiment in community video); SPEAKING OUR PEACE: A Film about Women, Peace, and Power; MILE ZERO: The SAGE Tour; and the landmark theatrical feature documentary NOT A LOVE STORY: A Film about Pornography. See Rebecca Sullivan, Bonnie Sherr Klein’s Not A Love Story, University of Toronto Press, 2014.

In 1987, at the age of 46, Bonnie had a catastrophic stroke caused by a congenital malformation in her brainstem. After years of ongoing rehabilitation, Bonnie now walks short distances with two forearm crutches or a walker, and moves through the world on Gladys, her motorized scooter, or a low-slung redtricycle. 

When she recognized that people’s curiosity was borne of their personal fear of disability, Bonnie created several international award-winning CBC radio features based on the intimate journals of her stroke experience, BONNIE AND GLADYS. She then wrote the best-seller SLOW DANCE: A Story of Stroke, Love, and Disability, in collaboration with Persimmon Blackbridge (Knopf, Canada, January 1997.) 

Bonnie writes, speaks, and consults about disability access and representation, feminism, media, health care, and rehabilitation to health care professionals, disability and survivor organisations, and the general public.Her life with disability is informed and enriched by the movement for disability rights. Ever a believer in the power of art to change people’s lives, she co-founded the Kickstart Society for Disability Arts and Culture, which produced Canada’s first Festival of Disability Art and Culture. 

Bonnie returned to filmmaking and the NFB 17 years after her stroke to make SHAMELESS: The ART of Disability, a collaborative and intimate film about 5 disability artists who challenge the stereotype of disability as tragedy.

She and Michael live on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver. They have two children, Seth and Naomi, and three grand-children.


Phone number:
c/o Writers' Union of Canada


Slow Dance: A Story of Stroke, Love and Disability. Knopf Canada, 1997


Order of Canada (Officer) for Governor General of Canada, 2013
Remarkable Women Award for City of Vancouver 125th Anniversary, 2011
Honorary Doctorate for University of British Columbia, 2014
Crystal Special Jury Award for Toronto Women in Film and Television, 2005
Governor General’s Persons Award, 2004
Honorary Doctorate for Ryerson University, 2003
Vancity Book Prize (Slow Dance), 1998
Woman of the Year for Vancouver Women in Film and Video, 1997
Woman of Distinction (Arts and Culture) for YWCA, 1996
Governor General Commemorative Medal, 125 Anniversary, 1992
Woman of the Year for Salon des Femmes du Quebec, 1983
Eligible for National Public Readings Program :


Northern OAC WITS:
One session:
GST not applicable