A benefit concert to raise awareness of Mt. Elphinstone’s forests, showcasing hundreds of photographs, with live music will be held on Saturday, April 14, at 7:30 pm at the Roberts Creek Community Hall. This show will feature Shel Neufeld, who will project his West Coast images on a large screen, while performing his original acoustic guitar music. Members of local First Nations groups will open the show.
Shel Neufeld is no stranger to at risk forests, nor to supporting them with his striking colour photographs and musical compositions. Neufeld, whose West Coast photography is displayed across Canada, has toured the country countless times with his music, and opened for the likes of the Grapes of Wrath, Jeremy Fisher, Don Ross, and Lynn Miles, and collaborated with Mae Moore and Don Kerr.
His visions are built on true connection with both landscape (Shel has done mountain and valley trips over a month long and loves a good bushwhack) and the communities that have utilized the forests for millennia. He states, “My greatest hope is that, through this concert, residents of the Sunshine Coast can gain a greater connection to our forest here, while at the same time, grow in deeper understanding of the Sechelt and Squamish Nation. Through understanding and respect, we can accomplish amazing things.”
Formative for Neufeld was his volunteer time with Uts’am Witness,a cross-cultural collaboration between artists, a Vancouver community centre, and the Squamish Nation. The program succeeded in helping to protect ancient forests in Sims Creekand the Elaho Valley in the Northern part of Squamish territory and raising awareness of the Squamish Nation culture and traditional territory claims.
"In 2005, when several Squamish Chiefs ceremonially closed the work that began ten years earlier, the Uts’am Witness Project had inspired and educated over 8000 participants from the general public at camping weekends, workshops, and events, and several areas of the Squamish Watershed were protected as Wild Spirit Places,” reports Neufeld.
Since moving with his family to Roberts Creek, Neufeld's appreciation and respect for the forests of Mt Elphinstone has grown. “For the water that local residents and wildlife depend on, the wild mushrooms and medicinal plants that are harvested by both First Nations members and the larger community, the incredible biodiversity that feeds both our lungs and our spirits, we need to do a much better job of safeguarding these forests for now and future generations,” he says.
Proceeds for the show will benefit Elphinstone Logging Focus’s efforts to protect local forest areas. Advance tickets available for $12 from MELOmania, Gaia’s Fair Trade, and Strait Music. Suggested Donation at the door, $14-$20, kids under 12, free or by donation.