Jay is a 17-year-old Métis (native Indian mother and white father) teenager, who was raised by his mother in an isolated, predominately native community and an assortment of dysfunctional pseudo-fathers, one of which was abusive. He steals enough money to escape by bus from his desolate life to search for a meaningful life, and possibly search for his biological father.
On the bus, a middle-aged man, Phil, befriends Jay and makes room for him in his apartment with him. Phil is despondent over the recent death of his nephew from a drug overdose administrated by his friends to precipitate his imminent death from AIDS.
Phil introduces Jay to some of the niceties of modern civilization including his flamboyantly gay friend, Steve, and a couple of girls. Jay gradually becomes part of a small teenage group which includes a petty thief and the two girls. They initiate him into typical big city subcultures and entertainments with their numerous potential pitfalls and problems. Jay eventually becomes less naive, overcomes his homophobia, and reluctantly accepts Steve as a useful but distant friend.
Jay's petty thief friend puts him in contact with a smalltime drug dealer who uses him as a delivery person. Jay does not realize he is delivering drugs and hence is negligent in making a delivery. The dealer assumes Jay has absconded with the drugs and sends his “boys” to rectify the situation.
Jay leaves Phil's place and goes into hiding on the street. He finds work as a bus boy and waiter in a seedy restaurant. He lives in a small room above the restaurant. An old native shaman also lives there and awakens Jay's feelings for his native heritage and spirituality. Jay learns to listen to his inner voice and puts him in touch with the strength of his guardian eagle spirit. His influence encourages Jay to initiate a successful confrontation with the drug dealer and Jay returns to live with Phil.
Jay falls in love with a girl whose rich father actively does not approve of the relationship. However, they persevere and eventually are married at her father’s posh Country Club. Jay's native shaman friend assists in the ceremony and entertainment is provided on the lawn outside the Club by native drummers and dancers in ceremonial costumes, much to the bewilderment of the family and strait-laced guests.
Charles (Bill) Shirriff was raised in Saskatchewan, Canada, during the depression years in the 1930's.
His interest in human nature and young people led him to a career in teaching and counselling where he encountered teenagers learning to live with problem situations. A chance encounter led to a friendship with a young man who involved Charles with the events and experiences that inspired the two novels leading to this film script based on his struggles to survive as a gay teenager.
After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor Science in Math, Physics and Chemistry, he began a teaching career that would span thirty-five years and would take him to Cranberry Portage, Flin Flon and Norway House in northern Canada. Most of his teaching years were spent In Portage la Prairie near Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he held positions as teacher, school counselor, Coordinator for Special Needs Students, and Consultant for the Gifted & Talented in the School Division.
A brief foray into the field of Meteorology provided the opportunity to work and live in Moosonee on the tip of James Bay.
His love of learning and a penchant for different experiences led him to obtain a B.A. degree from the State of New York and Master of Science in psychology from the University of North Dakota. Additional courses in a variety of subjects were taken at the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, University of Connecticut (Storrs) and Stanford University in California.
He is the author of the two fact-based novels: Spirits of a Feather (2000) and Souls of a Feather (2001) from which this screenplay was developed. He has also recently published a collection of autobiographical stories entitled: IT’S NOT WHERE YOU’RE GOING . . . IT’S HOW YOU GET THERE (2009)