Dedicating Our Project to Naomi Heffler
Naomi Heffler was an employee of Churchill River Outfitters, By all accounts, Naomi was an exceptional woman - she was an accomplished canoeist/kayaker; an excellent outdoor guide; a terrific skier; a brilliant scholar; a fine musician; but most importantly, a fantastic person. Naomi passed away in a skiing accident in 2003.
I didn't know Naomi. I first heard about her from long-time Churchill River Canoe Outfitter guide, Ken Schultz show my wife, Velda and I "Naomi's Wave", at Corner Rapids on the Churchill River. There is a plaque there, naming this wave as Naomi's. in her memory, because she absolutely loved to play on it. Her story touched me.
When I returned to Churchill River Outfitters in Missinipe, I asked owner, Ric Driediger about Naomi. Even though it had been a few years since her passing, a tear formed in his eye and his voice cracked just a little as he spoke of her. It was obvious that Naomi had not just been an average employee. Ric truly respected, admired and adored her.
I didn't have to know Naomi to understand her spirit. In this day of perfect hair, perfect teeth, texting, social media, and entitlement, there is a breed of young ladies who rise above the mediocrity to become free-spirited independent thinkers. They are confident, self-reliant, talented and spirited. They respect their fellow human beings, their environment, and revel in all Mother Nature offers them. They are the young ladies who love to paddle the wilderness, dance in whitewater and sleep in the forest. Naomi was such a lady.
My motivation to attempting a musical project such as this was initially based on somewhat selfish reasons. First, I really wanted to work with Sue Leonard; secondly, I wanted to create in the magical atmosphere Forest House provided. But...... Naomi's story would not leave me.
When I suggested to Ric and Sue, that we dedicate this project to Naomi, they quickly agreed. Thus, the "Naomi Project" was born.