On a cool, crisp day this past fall, Harry Good celebrated a successful hunt. Not for too long though, as he walked back and forth over a half kilometre carrying a moose rib, leg, and then another leg, out of the bush. It felt good to be 45, strong and on the land. Three weeks later Harry was in Emergency fighting for air to keep him alive.
Harry lives in Hazelton and is Gitxsan from the Frog Clan. He works a camp job and is apprenticing as an automotive mechanic, but all that stopped when he contracted COVID-19. As his symptoms worsened, he had a couple of trips to the hospital–both in Hazelton and Prince George–and was in regular contact with the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day. When the doctor called to check up on Harry he asked him to “count backwards from 30." Harry couldn't. The doctor called an ambulance to rush him to the University Hospital of Northern BC.
The next 10 days were very strange for Harry. He posted to Facebook and even called relatives (including his cousin Rita whom he only ever texted). What is odd is that Harry has no recollection of any of this. All he remembers is arriving in Emergency, then waking up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) a week and a half later.
What he does remember is this: Harry vividly recalls a grizzly bear attacking him, clawing at him, snorting and dragging him away. With no energy, Harry couldn't even lift an arm. Just as he realized he couldn't defend himself and that the grizzly might kill him, two wolves appeared. One was grey and one was white. For three days the wolves fought with the bear. Back and forth in a life-or-death battle. A frail woman appeared. There were gaping black sockets where her eyes should have been, with thick tar-like tears dripping down her bony face. She was coming for Harry, he could tell. The wolves bared their teeth and advanced on her, chasing her away.
With two death threats stopped, Harry found himself on the back of a flying creature. Again, all he could do was lie there and watch. Together, they flew over a molten river of fire, ash filling the air. Hands reached up out of the heat grabbing at them, while their screams filled him with terror. Harry was still paralyzed. “It looked like Hell," said Harry. “I can still hear them screaming."
As the flying creature gained height, it escaped the clawing arms. Up, up it flew into the clouds, the daylight changing to night. Earth, a blue and green globe with swirling clouds, fell away. Another globe grew larger as they neared it: the moon. That was not the final destination, though. Passing the moon, the pair glided through space, past the Sun and into the stars. “We were in a weird looking galaxy," said Harry. That is when Harry started to feel more like his old self, at ease and with some energy. Soon after, he woke up in ICU.
Why does Harry believe the Ancestors saved him? At a ceremony earlier in 2020, Harry received a name belonging to his mom's Auntie: Maas Gibuu. It translates from Gitxsan as “White Wolf." His paternal grandmother held the name Grey Wolf. “Their spirits fought off the grizzly. They were with me and saved me." When the wolves won that battle they saved Harry's life. It has opened him up to spirituality in a new way.
Harry is still recovering from his ordeal. He has watched himself on Facebook speaking during that time, but he doesn't relate to the guy on the screen. Since getting out of the hospital, Harry's Facebook page has been busy. Both he and his family have shared what happened, and 20,000 people have viewed his live posts.
“It isn't about the views," says Harry. “I want everyone to see how COVID-19 affects a loved one. Follow the rules. Keep your masks on, sanitize, wash your hands often, and be nice and respectful."
And remember, the Ancestors are always nearby.