LAKE COWICHAN, BC — Bear Henry, a two-spirited Fairy Creek old-growth logging protester, missing for more than 10 weeks, has been found.
Henry was driving to the Fairy Creek blockade main camp on Nov. 27, 2021, when their van broke down on a remote logging road north of Port Renfrew, BC They were found Wednesday by Gemini Forest Product workers around 2:30 pm Pacific time.
Henry had been protesting old-growth logging at Fairy Creek since March 31, 2021, and their van was spray-painted with phrases like “Land Back” and “Fairy Creek forever.” Henry’s aunt Rose Henry, known as Grandma Losah, said she feared foul play, possibly at the hands of angry loggers.
But today Grandma Losah and Henry’s Fairy Creek friends were full of praise for loggers that found Henry. “The loggers were really great,” said Rainbow Eyes, a fellow Fairy Creek protester. “They gave them money and brought them to Tim Hortons to meet us.”
The loggers knew right away who they were, according to Grandma Losah. “They told Bear that there were posters of them all over the place.”
Henry’s van was stuck on a mountain in the Caycuse Main area, out of sight of helicopters. Grandma Losah said Bear told her they saw helicopters overhead searching several times but they weren’t seen.
“Bear told me they remembered Uncle James teaching them how to build a fire and survive,” said Grandma Losah.
A friend, Glenn Reid, said Bear told him that he ran out of baked beans and peanut butter weeks ago and was suffering the effects of being surrounded by black mold in the van.
Bear survived in the woods by heating snow and drinking it, according to Reid. “Today they felt it was time to start hiking out. They hiked seven hours up a hill this morning to find another road more likely to have a truck.”
Grandma Losah had searched on Jan. 15 with Reid, Rainbow Eyes and the author of this article in an area just a few kilometers from where Henry was stuck. But the road was too heavily snowed-in to search further.
“Everybody felt that Bear was alive, especially Grandma Losah,” said Rainbow Eyes. “She never gave up.”
The search for Bear had been fraught with mistrust between Bear’s family and the RCMP. Family members said they did not report their disappearance of him until Dec. 11 due to distrust of police.
“We did not think the RCMP would co-operate with us,” said Grandma Losah. “They see us as land defenders. They don’t care about our human side.”
But RCMP investigator Cpl. David Motley and Grandma Losah started working collaboratively over the past three weeks. Grandma Losah said she is happy to be able to tell Motley the good news.
At a recent vigil for Henry, Grandma Losah welcomed Motley to join the circle, to the surprise of the group. “We need to work together with the RCMP,” she told her fellow protesters. “We cannot always be against them.”
Grandma Losah took Henry to the hospital to be checked. “They lost a lot of weight,” she said, “but they are so happy, they can’t wait to be able to eat some McDonald’s fries.” She said Henry’s mother Aileen can’t stop crying and is overwhelmed by the good news.
“I want to say thank you to everyone who came out and helped with the search, the Tik-Tok crew and the reporters. I would thank everyone who came to our prayer vigils and says a very special thank you to the Gemini Loggers,” said Grandma Losah.
“Bear says they are so grateful,” said Grandma Losah. “They say it is different to feel kindly to loggers who are usually against us.”
“The Bear is out of hibernation,” said Reid.
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