Missing since Nov. 26, 2021, Bear Henry walked into the arms of thrilled family members in Lake Cowichan on the afternoon of Feb. 9.
Kevin ‘Bear’ Henry, a two-spirited individual (doesn’t identify as male or female) spent over two months missing in the mountains around Port Renfrew. Bear survived in a broken-down van with a sleeping bag, a pile of blankets, a few cans of expired beans, some peanut butter and jam.
Bear was last seen in Lake Cowichan Nov. 26. The individual had been living in the van in Victoria and was headed to the Fairy Creek encampment near Port Renfrew. A retired logger took a photograph of the van parked at the entrance to Gordon River Main near Honeymoon Bay on Nov. 27.
Described as a 37-year-old Indigenous person standing six feet, three inches tall and weighing approximately 300 pounds with a heavy build, Bear proved hard to find. Several searchers went out in vehicles and there were helicopter searches, but nothing was ever found.
Bear spoke to Ha-Shilth-Sa, saying that it still doesn’t feel real. Bear hasn’t been in contact with another human for three months.
Bear said the van broke down at Fairy Creek. Bear stayed warm inside the broken-down vehicle with a sleeping bag.
“I’m Indigenous so I have lots of blankets,” laughed the person.
And even though there was some food to eat, Bear lost a lot of weight.
On the morning of Feb. 9, 2022, Henry made the decision to leave the safety of the van.
“It was hard because it was my home, it kept me safe,” said Henry.
Not only scared of wild animals, Henry was also afraid of loggers, whom they’ve been in conflict with over the Fairy Creek logging protests.
Ironically, after seven hours of walking a forestry road, Henry was picked up by a pair of Gemini loggers.
“They picked me up and I told them my name is Kevin, then they asked if I’m Bear Henry, and I asked them, ‘How did you know?’”
Henry was incredulous that people were looking and that the missing posters were everywhere.
“Then I asked what day it is and they told me Tuesday,” said Bear. “’No, I mean what month is it?’”
Henry said the loggers were friendly and gave him water and cigarettes.
“They stopped to pick up money and gave me $40 so that I could get donuts from Tim’s,” said Henry. “I should have gotten their names.”
Grateful family members arrived in Lake Cowichan Tim Horton’s restaurant to welcome Bear back after receiving Facebook private messages from Henry.
“I should go get checked at the hospital but I just want to get back to my friend’s in Victoria and rest,” said Henry.