Bear Henry was found safe on Feb. 9. An update can be found here.
The previous version of this article is below.
Bear Henry’s friend says they are a person who deeply cares about others, has a great spirit, and a big booming laugh.
Bear, who uses they/them pronouns, is an outreach worker in Victoria who has been missing since Nov. 27.
They became friends with Shae Perkins when they were both doing outreach in Beacon Hill Park during the pandemic.
“We became really close when I set up the Community Care tents and Beacon Hill Park in the winter last year,” Perkins said.
“They contributed to that a lot and were a huge support for folks in the park, and for me personally, and I became a huge support for them in their life.”
Just before they went missing, Bear told friends they were headed up to Fairy Creek.
Perkins says he believes he was the last person to be in contact with Bear. He says as Bear travelled up Island overnight, they had sent him multiple updates on their whereabouts, then suddenly the updates stopped.
“They were going to be out of cell service for a little bit because they were going into the forest and then they would be back in a week or two,” Perkins said.
“Maybe about a week and a half of not hearing from Bear, I started to get concerned because they don’t usually go that long without talking to anyone.”
Perkins said at that point he reached out to Bear’s cousin, who also hadn’t heard from them in a while and that is when they filed a missing person report with Victoria Police.
VicPD issued a missing person notification on Dec. 15, asking for people to look out for Bear, or their van.
In the notice, Bear 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. Bear is known to wear skirts and leggings.
Bear drives a brown 1980 Dodge Royal camper van with British Columbia license plate NB206H.
Please share & help us locate missing person Kevin "Bear" Henry.
Described as: Indigenous, 37 yrs, 6'3'', 300 lbs, brown hair, green eyes.
Driving a 1980 Dodge Royal camper van BC Plate: NB206H.https://t.co/iVXH75wUOI pic.twitter.com/9HmZRUvVYD
— Victoria Police (@vicpdcanada) December 15, 2021
A Facebook group dedicated to sharing information about Bear notes there is a similar van in Victoria which does not belong to Bear, so it is important to check the license plate to make sure it is the same van.
Between 9:53 a.m. and 12:53 p.m. tomorrow, there will be a candlelight vigil held in Beacon Hill Park for friends, family, and the general public to gather to help raise awareness for Bear. The vigil will start at the area near the petting zoo.
Rose Henry, Bear’s aunt, says the vigil will be Indigenous-led, and there will be cultural components, like a Blanket Ceremony.
“[They have] an Indigenous family that really cares about finding [them],” Rose said. “[There will be] drummers calling Bear’s spirits home to [their] family. [Their] mother has made a commitment that she will be in attendance.”
Perkins said so far friends and family have been crowdfunding on GoFundMe to do searches in the area they believe Bear may have headed.
“Organizing all of it has been an extreme challenge. There is no DIY manual for this,” Perkins said, noting they were recently able to raise enough money to rent a helicopter for a few hours.
“It was actually surprisingly easy to discern vehicles even with the snow and stuff like that and the helicopter was able to maneuver really well and fly close to the ground.”
He says if anyone wants to help with the search, they should donate to the GoFundMe. Perkins also notes that they are in particular looking for anyone who can loan ATVs, snowmobiles, drones, or boats to help search in areas they are struggling to reach due to the snow.
Sgt. Chris Manseau, communications officer with the RCMP says the police have been out looking for Bear as well.
“We’ve used our helicopters in the air that are flying over the area to keep an eye open for that vehicle,” Manseau said.
He says all RCMP members on the Island have been informed of this missing persons case and know to keep an eye out for Bear and the van.
He says the case is active and ongoing, with more than a dozen pages added to the file in the past few days.
Perkins says he hopes to continue going out to search for Bear.
“I do strongly believe that there’s a good possibility that they’re still alive. They were planning on going out into the woods for a few weeks and were prepared enough to survive for a while and they’re very resourceful, very resilient, Perkins said.
“They know how to survive in the bush. And I think, yeah, time is still critical. There’s still a chance that they’re alive out there. I really want to bring my friend home.”