After spending close to three months alone in the Vancouver Island backcountry as loved ones searched for them, Bear Henry was located Wednesday on a logging road near Lake Cowichan.
Thirty-seven year old Henry, a two-spirit Indigenous person who uses the pronouns they/them and has ties to Salt Spring Island as well as the ongoing Fairy Creek old-growth logging protests, walked 15 hours from the bush in the Caycuse Watershed to a logging road where they were found. Henry was last heard from Nov. 27 and was reported missing on Dec. 11. Their van was spotted in Lake Cowichan before the trail went cold.
Police from the Lake Cowichan RCMP confirmed that frontline officers attended a local coffee shop on the afternoon of Feb. 9, where Henry had been dropped off by two “industry workers” who had reportedly located Henry on a logging road near the community. In a video shared by the Fairy Creek Blockade, Henry is seen recounting some of their experience over the phone as they sit in a local Tim Hortons.
Henry remained in their van for over two months deep in the forest, the group wrote.
“Trapped by snow and hindered by rough backcountry conditions, Bear stayed put hoping for rescue.” With only cans of beans and peanut butter as sustenance, they recalled running out of food for what felt like a month.
“As the days passed, Bear could feel their body deteriorating. They knew they had to make the journey out or face dire consequences” the post stated.
The trek Henry took out involved close to two days tramping through the bush and logging roads in cold and snow. They got to a backcountry campground along a ridge line where they flagged down two loggers who brought them to Lake Cowichan.
On the ride back, the loggers told Henry they knew their name and had seen their missing posters up around Vancouver Island. Henry recounted asking the loggers what day it was, then what month, as it dawned on them that they had been gone for three months.
A post made by Henry on a Facebook group dedicated to finding them stated that the walk took 15 hours “pushing my body beyond its limits.” “I’m thankful I pushed myself out of my van and onto that logging road,” Henry wrote. “It was gruelling, painful, but needed.”
In a news release that does not mention Henry’s name but does reference specific details about their age and the date they went missing, RCMP acknowledged there may be many questions around how and where Henry managed to survive.
“The RCMP is now working to determine more specific details but will leave it to the missing person to determine how, or if those details are shared publicly,” the release stated.