Missing persons cases renews Pacheedaht plea to logging protestors: Stay home

Port Renfrew, BC

The family of Kevin “Bear” Henry, 37, of Penelakut First Nation, continues to search the treacherous tangle of remote logging roads in hopes they will find their loved one, who hasn’t been seen or heard from since Nov. 27, 2021.

Henry, a non-binary gender neutral (doesn’t identify as either male or female), was on their way to take part in the Fairy Creek blockade near Port Renfrew in late November. They were driving a 42-year-old camper van from Victoria to Lake Cowichan. Reports state that they had parked behind a Lordco Auto parts store in Lake Cowichan for the night but texted family that someone was banging on the sides of the van.

On Nov. 27, a local man spotted the van at the start of Gordon River Road, just northwest of Honeymoon Bay. He took a photograph, which has been circulated on social media and missing posters. The man told officials that by the time he went back to the area, two days later, the van was gone.

A search for Gordon River Road on Google Earth shows that there are many roads with that name in the area between Honeymoon Bay and Port Renfrew. There is one access point to Gordon River Road south of Honeymoon Bay and another north of the little town. The many logging roads in the area between Cowichan Lake, Nitinaht and Port Renfrew are intersected by both active and deactivated logging roads.

Henry was reported missing to Victoria Police on Dec. 11, 2021, then, to the RCMP.

On Dec. 15 Vic PD issued a missing persons poster containing the following information: “Kevin is described as a 37-year-old Indigenous person standing six feet, three inches tall and weighing approximately 300 pounds, with a heavy build. They have short brown hair and green eyes.”

Henry was driving a brown 1980 Dodge Royal camper van with BC license plate NB2 06H. It has black spray-painted patches and logos.

Vic PD went on to say that their investigators believe that Kevin may have travelled to the Fairy Creek area and that officers are working to locate Kevin to ensure that they are safe.

According to RCMP Sergeant Chris Manseau, not long after Henry’s disappearance was reported to police there were statements that Henry may have been in the Lake Cowichan or Sooke areas, and RCMP investigators were made aware not long after.

“Because of the nature of missing person files, the last confirmed location of the missing person is the police of jurisdiction who holds the file, which is why it was managed by Victoria Police, until we could conclusively prove that they had been last sighted in Lake Cowichan,” Manseau said in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa. 

He went on to say that all RCMP detachments on Vancouver Island (and likely all municipal police forces also) were aware of the missing person. Henry’s vehicle is on a shared police system as being associated to a missing person, and should any police officer come across it, they would investigate further.

Manseau said RCMP members working in the Fairy Creek area immediately made numerous patrols and liaised with the Rainforest Flying Squad from the outset for possible contact.  During their patrols of the area RCMP members looked specifically for the vehicle that Henry was believed to be in.

“The RCMP helicopter made patrols in the area looking for signs of Henry's vehicle, and officers on the ground spoke with many people who have traveled in the area to see if they may have encountered either Bear or had seen their vehicle,” said Manseau.

In addition, Lake Cowichan RCMP members have liaised with family members, and conducted social media checks, banking checks, and contacted various hospitals.

“The last contact I had with the Lake Cowichan RCMP on Henry, they were working with SAR for a possible search, however I don't have any further details on that,” said Manseau.

Friends of the family have stated that official search and rescue teams have not been deployed because the area is vast and police are waiting for a confirmed lead to focus their search.

A crowd funding page has been set up by friends to assist private citizens with fuel and expenses to conduct their own searches.

The search has been hampered by heavy snowfall and freezing conditions, making the hundreds of miles of interconnected logging roads even more treacherous.

“Because of the nature of the area, and the season, some of the roads in the area may be impassable, or unsafe for travel,” Manseau warned.

Also missing from the Fairy Creek encampment is Gerald “Smiley” Kearney, 61, of Victoria. Kearney was last seen in the Fairy Creek encampment area Oct. 13, 2021 and was reported missing Oct. 21.

Kearney was taking part in the Fairy Creek blockade and was walking from one encampment to another when he went missing in the Fairy Creek watershed. His backpack was found in the area. Exhaustive searches of the area conducted by police, dogs and drones have turned up nothing.

Pacheedaht Chief Councillor Jeff Jones told Ha-Shilth-Sa that he is glad that the Rainforest Flying Squad are leaving the territory, albeit slowly.

“It is way overdue for them to get back to their lives/ family,” he said, adding that the nation has repeatedly asked protestors to leave Pacheedaht territory.

If you have any information about where Kevin “Bear” Henry may be, please call the Lake Cowichan RCMP at (250) 749-6668.

To report what you know anonymously, please call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

The Lake Cowichan RCMP requests that anyone who may have had contact with Henry to please contact them. Information could be of paramount importance if it is in regards to the last known location of Henry.

A GoFundMe has been organized by Tareem Sangha to support private searches. In addition, a Facebook page has been set up to help organize searches.

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