Tag Archives: Patrol

Bear Clan Patrol Makes Official Return To Winnipeg Streets

Members of the Bear Clan prepare for their first official patrol. (Tim Fontaine/CBC)

Members of the Bear Clan prepare for their first official patrol. (Tim Fontaine/CBC)

CBC News

After months of planning and years in hibernation, the Bear Clan Patrol has returned to Winnipeg streets. The volunteer safety group held their first official street patrol Monday night in the North End.

“It’s really empowering. It’s part of the movement that’s been gathering in our community here and I’m just so glad to see it finally come together,” says organizer James Favel.

The original Bear Clan Patrol was first formed in 1992. Back then, around 200 volunteers banded together to provide people living on or frequenting city streets with a sense of security.

But after a few years in operation, the group faded away.

When 15-year-old Tina Fontaine’s body was found wrapped in a bag in the Red River in August 2014, a group of Winnipeggers decided to revive the clan.

Like the original Bear Clan, the new group aims to stop fights, keep an eye on sex-trade workers and find a way to get people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to safety.

“I came back to see if I could make a difference and help start this patrol to make the North End safer for the community,” says Tommy Prince, Jr., who was part of the original Bear Clan Patrol.

“It’s all about safety.”

Laura Garcia-Stewart says volunteering will allow her to help the “disadvantaged” people she sees on the way to university classes on Selkirk Avenue.

“I want people to know that there are other people out there that really care and that they’re not alone,” she says. “This is, I believe, the best way to go about it.”

Over 30 members of the new Bear Clan Patrol gathered on Selkirk Avenue before forming groups of five and hitting the streets. Some members strolled down Jarvis Avenue, chatting with sex-trade workers or just picking up pieces of trash.

“Everybody wants to see our people be happy here in this community. There’s no reason why we have to live any different than people in Fort Richmond or Elmwood,” Favel says.

“This a community too and we should be safe and sound and secure here.”

Organizers of the Bear Clan say they’ll return each night but plan on expanding patrols to early mornings and school hours.


‘Bear Clan Patrol’ to return to Winnipeg streets


By Tim Fontaine | CBC News

Volunteers from the city’s indigenous community are resurrecting a group that once patrolled Winnipeg streets.

The murder of Tina Fontaine this past summer was really the catalyst for this,” said James Favel, chair of the Dufferin Residents Association and one of those reconstituting the Bear Clan Patrol.

In the early 1990s, the Bear Clan Patrol had more than 200 members, whose goal was to prevent crime and help vulnerable people. Volunteers would work from dusk to dawn in teams, walking, driving or cycling through inner-city neighbourhoods.

Members of the Bear Clan were involved in everything from preventing break-ins, stopping fights and getting intoxicated people get home safely, to keeping an eye on those in the sex trade.

Founded by workers at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre in the city’s North End, the original Bear Clan Patrol operated for several years before the group faded away.

Although the new Bear Clan has nearly 400 likes on its Facebook group, Favel says actual patrols won’t begin until the summer.

“We’re still working out a vetting process for volunteers. We can’t just let anyone go out on the streets without some sort of screening,” he said.

Still, Favel says the group already has a board and the blessing of the Bear Clan’s original founders. They’ve even had a small number of jackets made that can be worn when volunteers begin making rounds.

The original group was modelled after a similar initiative called the AIM (American Indian Movement) Patrol that operated in Minnesota beginning in the late 1960s.

The Bear Clan Patrol was also inspired by the traditional clan system of the Ojibway and Cree. People who were born into the bear clan were often seen as protectors of their communities.