Tag Archives: Bear Clan Patrol

Bear Clan announces leadership change

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg community organization announced it has a new interim executive director.

The Bear Clan announced late Friday that Kevin Walker has been appointed interim executive director, effective immediately. He replaces James Favel, one of the founders of the organization.

“Bear Clan is proud to appoint Kevin Walker as interim executive director,” said board chairperson Shaneen Robinson-Desjarlais in a statement. “He walks several times a week with the patrols. He captures their activities on our Facebook page so our community learns about the important work our staff and volunteers do. He fundraises. Kevin is at the heart of our community — he lives and breathes our community-centric approach to crime prevention, relationship building, neighbourhood safety, solidarity and belonging. We are excited to see him bring these insights and experiences to our community of staff and volunteers.”

In an interview with CTV News, Robinson-Desjarlais explained why the change was made.

“There’s been some things going on, a movement, and we are just looking towards positive change and moving forward as an organization,” she said.

She added they were looking to have some new vision for the organization.

Robinson-Desjarlais was asked if Favel was part of the decision to name Walker the interim executive director and she said she couldn’t comment, other than to say Favel is no longer an employee of the Bear Clan.

“I want to wish Mr. Favel well in his future endeavours and thank him for the years that he did put in for Bear Clan Patrol Inc. As I said, this organization is far greater than one person, and we just wish James well on his journey.”

According to a news release from the Bear Clan, Favel has been involved with the organization for six years.

CTV News reached out to Favel and he said he wasn’t prepared to make a statement at this time.

By: CTV News, published Friday, July 31, 2020


Winnipeg Bear Clan board member should step down following social media posts: co-founder

Bear Clan co-founder and executive director James Favel. CBC News

The head of Winnipeg’s Bear Clan says he wants a board member gone after a series of Twitter posts, including one where she allegedly suggested people who want police budgets reduced be blocked from calling 911.

The tweets from Rejeanne Caron’s twitter account are no longer publicly viewable, but Bear Clan co-founder and executive director James Favel said they were “problematic to the highest level.”

“It’s remarkable and shocking that we could have somebody with that mindset in our group for so long,” Favel said.

CBC News reached Caron, who declined to comment.

In her Twitter profile, Caron identifies herself as a frontline police officer and a former Conservative party candidate for the 2019 federal election.

Along with being a Bear Clan Board Member, she also says she’s a sex crimes investigator and francophone Métis.

“The views expressed are my own,” her bio reads.

Petition started to have Caron removed

An online petition has now been started by an unnamed Bear Clan volunteer to have Caron removed from the organization’s board.

The petition has more than 1,000 signatures. CBC News reached out to the author of the petition, who declined an interview.

The petition lists examples of some of Caron’s tweets, retweets and replies, which allegedly include denying systemic racism in policing exists and saying that Chief Adam Allan was lying after he accused Fort McMurray RCMP of assault.

Other tweets of Caron’s allegedly include calling the Black Lives Matter movement “new terrorists” and using the hashtag #AllLivesMatter, according to the petition.

She also openly criticized a number of elected representatives, including the prime minister, according to Favel.

“We are not here to vilify anyone. She’s exercising her democratic right to free speech and we respect that,” he said.

But Favel said the issue is that Bear Clan is not supposed to be political, and the views Caron is expressing are “diametrically opposed to the way we conduct ourselves and the way we think.”

CBC News has not been able to independently verify the tweets described by the petition and Favel.

‘I made a colossal mistake’: Favel

Favel, who founded the Bear Clan as an Indigenous-led, grassroots street patrol group in Winnipeg, said all volunteers and staff have to follow a code of conduct on social media posting.

If board members aren’t currently bound by the code, they should be, he said.

“I bear all the responsibility for this. I chose her to be on the board. I feel that I made a colossal mistake here,” Favel said.

Caron is currently still a board member, which she has been since 2018, Favel confirmed.

It will be up to the board to remove her, he said.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer. She should be asked to step down, but they haven’t done that yet,” he said. “The board needs to be responsive to this, and needs to act quicker.”

Board meeting to discuss future of Caron

Board chair Brian Chrupalo, who is also a police officer, said the board plans to meet to discuss the future of Caron soon.

Chrupalo said they’ll hear all sides of the story before making a decision, and will be making more comments in the future.

“I hope people aren’t going to judge the whole organization based on one incident, which again, I don’t have the full details of,” Chrupalo said.

The board had previously posted to The Bear Clan’s Facebook page, which has since been deleted.

“The board of Bear Clan Patrol wishes to state unequivocally that these comments do not in any way represent the views of the board of Bear Clan Inc.,” the post previously read.

By CBC News, posted on June 30, 2020.


Family, Friends of Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace Continue Push For Inquest A Year After Her Death

Family, friends and community members walked through Kenora in memory of Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace on Monday, April 17, which marked a year since the 14-year-old Grassy Narrows First Nation teenager’s body was found across the street from the Lake of the Woods District Hospital after a two-day search. The Winnipeg-based community group Urban Warrior Alliance and members of the Winnipeg Bear Clan Patrol marched in support. Kathleen Charlebois/Daily Miner and News

By Kathleen Charlebois | Miner and News, April 18, 2017

Braeden Kokopenace held up a picture of his twin sister emblazoned with the words “We will not forget” and “#Justice4Azraya” for all to see during a march in her memory.

He and Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace’s family, friends and community members from Grassy Narrows First Nation walked from Knox United Church to the wooded site across from the Lake of the Woods District Hospital where Azraya’s body was found after a two-day search a year ago on April 17. She disappeared from the hospital after police brought her there.  Friends, family and provincial representatives continue to press for inquest into her death.

Braeden said Azraya was “a sweet girl” who he loved and cared for. “I want justice for my sister,” he said during a press conference at the vigil. “She didn’t deserve to be treated like that by police.”

He referred to a video that showed a Kenora OPP officer in an altercation with Azraya a few weeks before her death, and he said he believes the incident impacted her badly. “I think it put fear into our community,” he said.

Braeden also said both youth and elders have been mourning for her in the year since her death. “Justice for my sister would mean answers about what happened to her and improving the system so less suicides take place,” he said.

Azraya’s aunt Lorenda Kokopenace said her niece’s death has been difficult to bear and the system “really failed all of them.”

She said she feels like the Anishinaabe Abinoojii Family Services, who had Azraya in their custody, is another kind of residential school system.

“That stuff needs to stop, and we need to all work together and quit sending our kids away,” Lorenda said. “She wanted to come home and they ignored that.”
Irwin Elman, the provincial advocate for children and youth in Ontario, said he has written in the past to the regional supervising coroner, Dr. Michael Wilson, to ask for an inquest.

Wilson said last October that the involvement of Child Protective Services adds “additional elements” to his investigation and requires more time, although Kenora Rainy-River MPP Sarah Campbell and Azraya’s family say an inquest is legally required as Azraya was in police custody when she died.

“A coroner’s inquest will investigate and explain circumstances around Azraya’s death and will provide us with the first step that we need to go forward so we can prevent the further loss of Indigenous youth,” Campbell said.

After walking through Kenora, marchers visited the memorial site across from the hospital, where they lit candles and put down tobacco.

Azraya’s friend Kyra Fobister shared that she often visits her friend’s grave in her home community and talks and plays songs they both like.

“We as a whole deserve to know the truth,” she said. “It may not bring her back but it’s our only way to cope with everyday life without her.”


  • Reader Submission 

Cooper Nemeth’s Dad Addresses ‘Heartbreaking’ Letter From Winnipeg Teen

Brent Nemeth talks about the emotions he felt after reading Brianna Jonnie's letter

Brent Nemeth talks about the emotions he felt after reading Brianna Jonnie’s letter

CBC News, Posted: Mar 07, 2016

‘Shout from the rooftops and ends of the earth,’ letter in Cooper’s voice says

The dad of slain Winnipeg teen Cooper Nemeth says a heartbreaking and what he calls damaging letter from teen Brianna Jonnie prompted him to write a response — from himself and from Cooper.

“I was saddened when I first read it. It was heartbreaking to read,” said Brent Nemeth, Cooper Nemeth’s father.

“I was also saddened for the police department. It hurt my feelings. It was very emotional to read that so soon after Cooper’s disappearance and then being found that someone would think so unworthy of themselves over race.”

Jonnie, a 14-year-old indigenous girl, addressed her letter to police Chief Devon Clunis, a number of government officials and members of local media. In it, she says there is a discrepancy in how cases of missing indigenous girls are treated in comparison to others, such as Cooper or Thelma Krull.

Brent Nemeth said he wrote the response because he’s sad for Jonnie but is also concerned “a letter such as this takes us five steps back” in bridging relations with the First Nations community.

He lauded the Bear Clan patrol for its search efforts when Cooper was missing, saying the primarily indigenous group never stopped “for one second to think of race or colour or gender.

“They saw a need and felt the anguish and moved right in to do whatever they could to help as human beings,” he said in a part of the letter written in his own voice.

The Nemeth family later held a dinner to honour the Bear Clan and honour the bond with the First Nations community.

Jonnie’s letter, instead, encourages another generation to believe in a racist way of thinking, Nemeth said.

“It breaks my heart to believe that any child believes I see them as anything more or less than a child who deserves love every moment of their entire lives and who needs to be found when they are lost,” he wrote.

Jonnie describes herself as an honour roll student, volunteer, coach and dancer who is being raised by a loving mother. Though she is not involved in drugs, alcohol, prostitution or other illegal activity, nor a runaway, she says she is more likely to go missing than her peers simply because she is indigenous.

If that were to ever happen, Jonnie urges Clunis and the media to humanize her, not treat her “like another one of them ran away.”

"And if I do go missing and my body is found, please tell my mom you are sorry. Tell her I asked to be buried in my red dress, for I will have become just another native statistic," Brianna Jonnie, 14, wrote in a letter to Winnipeg Police Service Chief Devon Clunis. (CBC)

“And if I do go missing and my body is found, please tell my mom you are sorry. Tell her I asked to be buried in my red dress, for I will have become just another native statistic,” Brianna Jonnie, 14, wrote in a letter to Winnipeg Police Service Chief Devon Clunis. (CBC)

“The colour of one’s skin, their socio-economic status, or whom their legal guardian is should not determine the level of assistance they receive in finding them if they are missing, and yet, it does,” she wrote, adding examples of indigenous girls who went missing and the gap between when they disappeared and when the police issued a public notice.

In comparison, Cooper had his image in the paper the next day and Krull was in online reports less than 24 hours after her disappearance, Jonnie said.

Making gains

James Favel, an organizer with the Bear Clan Patrol, said he is driven to work toward “a new normal” in terms of community responses to missing persons.

“We have made some real gains and I don’t want to see it be lost,” Favel said, adding “you can’t take away from [Jonnie’s] reality.

“I wouldn’t malign her for how she feels. I know that there’s many women in my community that have the same feeling.”

Still, while Favel acknowledges Jonnie’s concerns are valid, he added that negativity surrounding the issue isn’t productive either.

“Delaine Copenace went missing last Friday. We’ve been searching; the media has been all over it. I think coverage has been equal in that respect.”

Brent Nemeth said the family was actively doing everything they could to help find Cooper.

“We used the media to our advantage, we used social media to our advantage,” he said.

“We didn’t sit at home and just file a missing police report. I was constantly on the police, updating every 15 minutes as soon as I made the report. Cooper’s friends texting, tweeting; my sister coming in and putting her keys down on the table and four coffees and saying, ‘We’re going to find him.'”

He said he is saddened that Jonnie believes her worth is based on gender and race, but felt she was off the mark when it comes to who spearheads the searching.

Cooper Nemeth went missing after leaving a house party in East Kildonan on Feb. 14. His body was found Feb. 20 behind a house in the same neighbourhood. (Supplied)

Cooper Nemeth went missing after leaving a house party in East Kildonan on Feb. 14. His body was found Feb. 20 behind a house in the same neighbourhood. (Supplied)

They are “fuelled by families and communities and police can only do the job they are enlisted to do. And it is the same for everyone,” he said, noting Cooper’s family, friends and the community overall “found the leads … the tips … and the feet on the street to rattle the earth.

“It wasn’t 1,500 police officers out there.”

Instead of writing to the police, government and media, Jonnie should have addressed her letter to her parents, Nemeth said.

The following is from Nemeth’s letter, written in the voice of Cooper:

“If I go missing … please please please recognize quickly that this is something completely out of the norm for me and don’t ever let me become another statistic. Handle me missing with the same care and love that you handle me with every single day of my life. Know that the times that I am acting out as a 17-year-old boy and we are struggling through some moments in our house have nothing to do with where I am now.

“Don’t wait for the police to look for me. They will do what they can and what they are allotted to do for every single missing person case there is. They will issue a statement and follow leads but it is up to you Mom and Dad to help find those leads for them and rally every single person you can to help find me. The police can’t do that for us … or anyone else.

“Shout from the rooftops and ends of the earth and call out to everyone you know to join you. Please Mom and Dad … even when you hear things that will make you think I have gone farther off the path you have laid out for me … don’t give up.

“I am just being a 17-year-old kid … trying things that most of us try … but in the big scheme of things, this moment doesn’t define who I am and who you have taught me to be. I may have hid a few things from you because that’s what we do as teenagers.… We are chameleons to our parents.

“Don’t let anything stop you Mom and Dad. When it comes down to it … only you and your strength and your love and your belief in me can bring me home.”

Brent Nemeth’s letter, in the voice of his late 17-year-old son Cooper Nemeth


Mobile users: View the document
Brent Nemeth’s letter, in the voice of his late 17-year-old son Cooper Nemeth (PDF KB)
Brent Nemeth’s letter, in the voice of his late 17-year-old son Cooper Nemeth (Text KB)


Search For Kenora Girl Expands To Winnipeg With Help From Bear Clan

Winnipeg's Bear Clan Patrol put up posters in the North End on Thursday night. The missing 16-year-old lived in Kenora but was known to visit friends and family in Winnipeg. (CBC/Justin Fraser)

Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol put up posters in the North End on Thursday night. The missing 16-year-old lived in Kenora but was known to visit friends and family in Winnipeg. (CBC/Justin Fraser)

By Laura Glowacki, CBC News Posted: Mar 03, 2016

Delaine Copenace, 16, was last seen on Saturday around 6 p.m. in Kenora

The search for missing Kenora teenager, Delaine Copenace, has expanded to Winnipeg.

The 16-year-old was last seen Saturday around 6 p.m. in downtown Kenora. Since the weekend, the search for Copenace had concentrated in the small Ontario city and outlying areas, including Lake of the Woods.

On Thursday evening members of the Bear Clan Patrol brought the search to Winnipeg after being approached by Copenace’s cousin Anthony Copenace and friend Aaron Paul on Facebook.

“I knew the best plan of action was to reach out to Bear Clan,” said Paul.

The Copenace family are very concerned for her wellbeing, said Paul. The teen has never gone missing before and has never run away. Her mother, Anida Fisher, describes Copenace as a “homebody.”

“She’s more reserved … more of a quieter, gentler soul,” said cousin Anthony Copenace, who lives in Winnipeg and helped with the search on Friday.


Delaine Copenace’s cousin Anthony Copenace said it’s very unusual for her to go missing. He described the Kenora 16-year-old as quiet and gentle. (CBC/Justin Fraser)

Bear Clan volunteers focused the search in Winnipeg’s North End near Selkirk Avenue, an area Copenace was known to visit when she was in town.

Organizer Justin Brown said everyone has a responsibility to keep an eye out when a young person is missing.

“I think the community effort is very important,” he said. “The effort for example that we made with Cooper [Nemeth] was incredible.”

First Nations communities have raised $8,000 for anyone with information about Copenace’s whereabouts.

Copenace is described by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) as having a larger build, with brown eyes and long black hair. She was last seen wearing black boots, a black jacket, a “Bullet for my Valentine” T-shirt and black jeans with zippered pockets.

Police are asking anyone with information to call Kenora OPP at 1-888-310-1122.