by Phil Ambroziak

A husband and wife say they’re lucky to be alive following a vicious bear attack at Bethel Gospel Camp near Jeannette Lake in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park.

The incident occurred around 8:30 a.m. Sunday (June 10) during the weekend Family Camp hosted by Northwest Community Church in Meadow Lake.

“As you may have heard, yes, I was attacked by a bear,” Casadi Schroeder confirmed via Facebook Monday. “He tried to eat my legs. I have 34 staples in my legs – I’m thankful to be alive.”

Schroeder went on to praise her husband, Brad, who she said saved her life by distracting the bear, which allowed her to get away.

“It was very traumatic,” she continued. “Please pray for healing… We are praising God my upper body was absolutely untouched.”

The Schroeders are a pastoral couple from Lanigan, SK who most recently served at Christian Fellowship Church in that community. They have been missionaries in Thailand and were at Jeannette Lake on the weekend as guest speakers at the Family Camp.

“This was our first time in the Meadow Lake area,” Brad Schroeder told Northern Pride.

He then went on to describe the attack in greater detail.

“We woke up to the bear scratching at our cabin, so we banged on the window in an attempt to scare it off,” he explained. “It then headed toward another building where people were sleeping… there was also a tent with people in it nearby. My wife tried to keep a safe distance when she went outside to keep an eye on the bear and to warn the others when the animal looked back and then started walking toward her.”

That walk quickly escalated into a full run and, before Casadi Schroeder could react, the bear had her.

“That’s when I ran out to fight it off,” Brad Schroeder continued. “My wife was able to get free and run toward another cabin, but the bear caught up with her and got a few more bites and scratches in.”

Eventually, the couple both made it to safety, but – realizing their young children were alone in their original cabin – Brad Schroeder attempted to get back to them when he was attacked before finally getting away for good.

“In the end, my wife was hurt worse than I was,” he stated. “She has several puncture wounds and lacerations whereas my wounds are pretty much cuts and scratches.”

The two were treated at the Meadow Lake Hospital and released later that day. They’re now home in Lanigan. According to Northwest Community Church, the family was planning to return to Thailand in the near future for a full-time, long-term mission. Brad Schroeder said the bear attack has not derailed those plans.

“Having said that, the healing process could take some time – both physically and emotionally,” he noted. “We’re just very thankful to everyone – the hospital staff, the conservation officers, everyone – who has been there for us.”

According to Rich Hildebrand, a conservation officer with the provincial Ministry of Environment, a bear believed to have been the one involved in the attack was trapped Sunday afternoon.

“That bear was put down and sent to the University of Saskatchewan for a necropsy while DNA samples will also be sent to the Alberta Fish and Wildlife lab in Edmonton for testing to confirm if it is indeed the same bear involved in the attack,” Hildebrand said.

Conservation officers have since placed traps in the area until it can be verified this is indeed the case.

Meanwhile, Bethel Gospel Camp plans to remain open and to offer all its summer programming as scheduled.

“Since the incident, we’ve taken extra precautions such as purchasing bear spray and bear bangers as deterrents,” explained Matthew Roger, chair of the Bethel Gospel Camp board of directors.

Roger also encourages the public not to be apprehensive about visiting Bethel or other campsites in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park.

“Our cabin leaders are all trained in how to deal with bear sightings, but will now be receiving additional training as a precautionary measure,” he said.