New doc chronicles life of Syrian refugee — and hockey mom

When you think of the term 'hockey mom' you might think of a fiercely-devoted mother who cares way more about her son's goals than her own — but a new documentary debuting Sunday takes a different approach.

Premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV and CBC Gem

Hockey Mom is an intimate, character-driven look at the lives of Fatma Hacomer and her nine-year-old son Majed, a Syrian family rebuilding their life from scratch in Canada. (Hockey Mom/CBC Gem)

When you think of the term "hockey mom," you might think of a fiercely-devoted mother who cares way more about her son's goals than her own — a woman who will tackle anything or anyone who gets in the way.

But a new documentary premiering Sunday night puts a different face on that stereotype.

Hockey Mom is the story of a Syrian woman and her nine-year-old son Majed struggling to adjust to life in Toronto as refugees. They eventually consider moving to Windsor for an easier life.

"Majed is a very smart, kind and sensitive kid. He's very active. He loves to play all the sports, [like] soccer and hockey," said Fatma Hacomer, the mother at the centre of the documentary.

"Majed was two years old when we left Syria to Turkey. He lived four years in the refugee camp."

All that time spent in the camp meant Majed didn't have a chance to learn how to conform to societal norms and rules. The young boy struggled to stay focused in school, and was eventually diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

"He couldn't follow the structure. There's many rules —and he wasn't listening to teachers," said Hacomer.

The documentary chronicles Hacomer's busy life, which includes waking up early to take her son to hockey practice. Meanwhile, Majed struggles to make friends and is routinely suspended from school for rowdy behaviour.

Tap on the player below for a 90-second snippet from the documentary:

Starting from zero

Filmmaker Teyama Alkaml said focusing a documentary around Hacomer's life "shows the reality of what it takes to build your life from zero."

"I think we hear a lot about refugees coming here to Canada, and we hear a lot about the war and the trauma that they're escaping. But when they arrive here, what happens then? And what happens a year or two years or three years after that?" said Alkami.

"So I would just like people to have some empathy for the great challenges that it takes to really pick yourself up and start from scratch."

Hockey means a lot to Hacomer and her son, Alkami said, adding it gives the mother a sense of pride as "she sees it as a way of integrating into wider Canadian society."

"It's also a great place for him to express himself and release that excess energy in a positive way," said Alkami. "So I think it's meant a lot for them. Fatma is very proud to see Majed play hockey,"

Hockey Mom debuts Sunday night at 9 p.m. on CBC Television and CBC Gem.

with files from Windsor Morning and CBC Docs