Ann Mortifee '65: A Life's Journey
2018 Alumnae Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
On the winding road of life, there are twists and turns, ups and downs, uncertainties and new chapters. With every door that closes, a new opportunity arises — every step leads us that much closer to where we are today, says Ann Mortifee ’65, when asked what advice she would offer CHS girls and alumnae.
“I threw myself to the wind, and said, ‘OK, I’m going to trust there’s a purpose for me being here, and I’m going to put one foot in front of the other, and I’m going to show up every single day to see what life brings me.’ Sometimes it brought me things I didn’t like, other times it brought me things that were just fantastic.”
Ann cites a story from early in her career, an opportunity to star in a Broadway play — a big potential break that required signing a three-year contract. She quickly realized that meant performing eight shows a week for 36 months ... and that she was completely uninspired by the music and lyrics (all these years later, she can still recite those words). Where some would have signed, Ann opted to listen to her gut and returned to Vancouver. Within three days, she received a call from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to write the music for The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, which became a global hit and launched a career in the performing arts that has earned her worldwide acclaim and spanned more than four decades.
“Half my life, I had no idea where I was going. I was completely lost, or so I thought. You learn to trust your instinct, your intuition, the feeling of something other than your logical mind,” says Ann. “Our destiny is like a hook that wants to pull us, and if you can release yourself from needing to understand every step of the way you will get pulled to where you want to go.”
Chapters in a life
On her website www.annmortifee.com, Ann’s biography and long list of accomplishments are neatly summarized in ‘three acts.’
But who is Ann Mortifee?
“I’m two people,” she says. “I have a self that is who I was born to be — completely natural and myself. The other person is the person of my culture, my family, my genetic coding and all that. My job has been to let the person I actually am become real to me, so she infuses my acquired self and I become authentically myself.”
Part of that discovery has involved embracing the ups and downs of life. So, when her much-beloved husband and “kindred spirit,” world-renowned flautist Paul Horn, passed away in 2014, instead of feeling lost, she says, “That really changed me, on a deep level, for the better. I understood people die, and something in me shifted and I became more fully myself. I felt secure in who I was in a way I never had before.” She soon realized that represented one chapter of life closing and a new one beginning.
Through the various chapters of her life, Ann says the friends she made at CHS have supported her every step of the way. Those friendships are also her fondest memory of CHS.
Curious, creative and passionate, Ann Mortifee believes wholeheartedly that each of us is like a pearl. “An oyster creates a pearl, not out of what’s easy. It gets a grit of sand in there that kind of bothers it. It secretes its tears around it, and that grows until it is the ‘pearl of great price’ — the wisdom usually given to us out of the things we’ve had to struggle for, or that have been difficult. What you gain is compassion for others, strength to endure, patience. They all come out of that grit that makes us aware of others. It all leads us to a place.”
Wednesday April, 25, 2018 at 10:11AM
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