1998 • Communication and Film Award

>> Back to 1998 Awards

Montreal, Canada

Born in South Africa and having lived in Canada since the early sixties, Wilhelmina Fredericks has a personality that is larger than life.

This may be due to her proud heritage and the fifteen mixed bloods that course through her veins. As a 15 year old, Wilhelmina was working in a local factory which offered its employees a safari expedition.  On this trip, her partner was a 65-year-old Canadian professor from Saskatchewan who was so taken with her that he offered to sponsor her to finish her education in Canada. 

It took five years, however, for Wilhelmina to accept the Alberta professor's offer but she obtained her Canadian education and graduated from Sir George Williams University (Concordia) with degrees in English, Sociology, Library Science and Performing Arts.

She has since been recognized as a respected bibliographer, dialogue coach and director. 

Wilhelmina had visited the New Hope Center in Worcester, South Africa to find that 25 mute and hearing-impaired children were expected to share one computer.  True to her personality, she lobbied various companies and was given 50 computers, printers, fax machines and telephones, secured free shipping for the equipment and collected used clothing and educational books for the school. 

Not content with having achieved this, she set out to form the Zerf Communications Institute – a communications school in South Africa.  This is the realization of a 10 year dream and the school's primary objective is to provide local residents with the skills to make movies that document their personal experiences of living in South Africa. 

Whilst the mainstream media tends to concentrate on violence in the country, Wilhelmina hopes that her students will allow the world to see and share in the cultural aspects and beauty of her country. 

Having traveled widely, Wilhelmina has immersed herself in many cultures and communities and even in her home town of Montreal she spends many hours helping those less fortunate, collecting clothes and food. 

Whether in her neighborhood or several thousand miles away, her profound sense of giving back to the community drives her to help those who can benefit from her zeal and drive.