By Eartha Muirhead
Since August 2021, two Fairy Creek defenders have tragically vanished into thin air.
Gerald (Smiley) Kearney walked off the mountain, in late August, after about 10 days. He spoke to someone at the Roadside camp, who reportedly said he was tired and was heading home to Victoria. He did not have a vehicle, so we assume he hitchhiked. No body has been found.
Kevin (Bear) Henry, was last heard from on November 27. He was sleeping in his van in Lake Cowichan, on his way to the blockade. He texted family members that night, saying someone was trying to break into his van. His van has not been found and neither has his body. I am trying not to spend time speculating, so here are the facts.
Bear Henry has been missing for more than a month, and friends are worried. A few of them started a fundraiser via Go Fund Me—to fund search efforts.
Henry was reported as missing on Dec. 11, and since Dec. 15 friends with winter-ready cars have been searching the area around Lake Cowichan’s south shore. The RCMP have conducted two helicopter fly-overs.
On Jan. 2, fundraiser organizer Tareen Sangha wrote that they had hired a helicopter to conduct an aerial search of the Lake Cowichan cliffs. “No leads yet but we will continue to search and hope to bring our friend home,” Sangha wrote. Sangha met Henry in university several years ago, and the two were roommates on and off. “We became family,” he said. Henry is a Victoria-based outreach worker who had been involved with the blockades at Fairy Creek, and before that was part of a group at Beacon Hill Park advocating for people experiencing homelessness. His aunt, Rose Henry, is a prominent Fairy Creek activist. To learn more about Bear Henry, go to The Capital Daily website, April 3, 2021, an interview with Nina Grossman.
The search organizers are waiting for a bill from the helicopter company to know how much money is left to continue the search. In the meantime, they’re reviewing map data to find areas that haven’t been searched by helicopter and boat. Sangha said they’re looking for people with snowmobiles and boats already on Lake Cowichan to help. If you can help, the name of the fund-raiser is “Bring Bear Home”.
Last week, after a series of requests, the RCMP finally authorized a search party of friends to go inside the injunction zone. However, when the search party tried to gain access, Teal-Jones’ employees, the outfit given the Tree Farm License to illegally log that area, refused them entry. This causes many to speculate that Teal-Jones has something to hide. Maybe they are just afraid that a few exhausted and grief-stricken folks might try to steal one of the world’s last remaining three thousand year old Yellow Cedar Trees. Or, maybe Teal-Jones’ seven private detectives, who have been spying on the blockades since early summer, were off duty that day.