On her commute to work on Nov. 11, Chelsea Jewell had a lot to think about.
Like a lot of British Columbians the night before, she had watched the debut of the Knowledge Network’s Search and Rescue: North Shore. But she has a closer connection to North Shore Rescue than most.
“In the episode, they mentioned that there are four people they've never been able to find, and my dad happens to be one of them,” she said.
In Sept. 2015, North Shore Rescue mounted a search for Neville Jewell, a 52-year-old White Rock man who hiked up the West Lion and disappeared on the trip home. After 10 days scouring the areas around the Howe Sound Crest Trail, including drawing on help from SAR teams from Lions Bay, Coquitlam, Surrey, Maple Ridge and Mission, they had no choice but to call off the search.
Throughout the search and in the years after, Jewell, a Coquitlam resident, has been in close contact with the team, kept fully informed of every effort they made, every drainage they checked. But seeing the incredible behind-the-scenes footage captured in the series somehow made her admire them on a new level.
“It was really eye-opening for me,” she said. “The incredible work that these volunteers do, how they get called at all hours of the day, and they have such huge hearts to go and do the unthinkable – to go and find people.”
As a psychiatric nurse in the prison system, Jewell is very much used to working on the frontline of a chaotic environment. But even she has come away in awe of the calm, methodical way NSR’s professional volunteers go about their work, as seen in the docuseries.
While it was traumatic to lose her father, Jewell resolved to make something good come from it all. After watching the first episode, she launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise cash for the team that did so much to find her dad. She set a goal of $2,500, which she has already nearly hit. Jewell intends to make it an annual campaign.
An avid hiker herself, Jewell is a bit of an evangelist for the team’s public safety messaging. She never goes into the woods without carrying the 10 Essentials (a light source, signalling device, firestarter, warm clothes, pocket-knife, shelter, water and food, a first aid-kit, navigation and a cellphone).
“I've tried to use that as a teaching tool for all the people around me,” she said. “I want to make sure that doesn't happen to anybody else.”
Whether it’s through her own fundraiser, or directly to their own local volunteer SAR outfit, Jewell is hoping people will recognize the value of the work that’s being done and chip in.
“If I could raise a million dollars, I would raise a million dollars for them because we are so lucky,” she said. “We're very lucky in B.C. to know that we have this team and all the search and rescue teams that are just a phone call away and that they will find you.”
Jewell remembers her father as an ambitious, adventurous man. He absolutely would approve, she said.
Jewell’s donation campaign can be found by searching “North Shore Search Rescue Donation 2020” at gofundme.com, or you can click here.
The series airs on the Knowledge Network on Tuesday’s at 9 p.m. or it can be streamed knowledge.ca