A missing person who survived for 74 days in the Canadian wilderness has described the ordeal as “just terrifying” and credited an uncle’s advice with helping them get through it.
Kevin “Bear” Henry, who is a two-spirit Indigenous person who uses gender-neutral pronouns, was last in contact with their family on November 27, 2021 and became lost in the wilderness of British Columbia while attempting to reach camps where people are protesting old-growth logging.
The 37-year-old Henry was driving their camper van on Vancouver Island on the way to the camps in Fairy Creek but as a result of darkness and rain they believed they had gone too far and tried to back the vehicle up.
“So I just kept going, trying to find a place to turn around,” Henry told Canada’s Global News.
“Eventually it got to a point where it got even worse. I got to a mountain road and my van was just crashing and bumping and eventually, I hit a bump and my van just turned off,” they said.
While the van did restart, it later got stuck in the mud after going around a bend.
“It was dark and it was raining and I couldn’t see anything and I was like, ‘I have to go to bed,'” Henry said, noting that they only had “minimal food supplies” because they had planned to be at the camp just two or three days.
Henry initially stayed in the van and survived off the food available to them. They have a broken back as a result of a stabbing in their 20s that left them paralyzed for four years, making walking for long periods difficult, according to CTV News.
“I was always taught to stay where I’m lost so I couldn’t leave, I was so scared,” Henry said.
Henry had not told anyone where they were planning to go and said they saw helicopters overhead engaged in the search for them. They remained in the van, daydreaming and napping.
“No one could hear me scream, no one knew where I was,” Henry said. “Every day was just terrifying.”
Eventually, Henry decided they had to walk and try to find help. They walked for about 15 hours to the top of the Caycuse Road where loggers from Gemini Logging spotted Henry on February 9.
“Even the two guys from Gemini fallers, they literally got cleared to leave early,” Henry explained. “They were like, ‘Man, if you were just moments slower, we barely even saw you. We thought you were a tree.'”
“I said, please help me, I’ve been walking for two days,” Henry said.
The loggers asked where Henry wanted to go and when they replied Tim Hortons, the loggers took Henry to one of the coffee chain’s stores in Lake Cowichan and gave them $20.
“That kind of care and support to do that, that’s humanity right there,” Henry said.
Henry credited their uncle James for advice on following the sun, taking rests and sipping water and explained that they had eaten anything they could to survive, including snow at one point in December.
“Cat food, beans, anything I could find,” they said. “There were cans of tomato sauce, raw rice that I had soaked in water for days. Anything. I’m like, ‘I like tomatoes now.'”
“My uncle said lie down if you can’t do anything else, just get through it,” Henry said.
Henry asked: “How did I survive 74 days?” and suggested that if they had not looked for help, they might not have been found.