January 23, 2018 6:32 pm
Updated: January 24, 2018 11:28 am

A closer look at Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol, evolving and expanding since 2014

WATCH: In 2014 the Bear Clan Patrol was a group of 12 people with an idea and running patrols largely in Winnipeg's North End. Today they have over 900 volunteers and are still growing. Global's Zahra Premji reports.

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Over the years, we’ve heard of the Bear Clan Patrol and we’ve seen them out patrolling and helping rid Winnipeg of dangers, while giving back to the community.

In 2014, the Bear Clan Patrol was a group of 12 people sitting around a board room table with an idea and running patrols largely in Winnipeg’s North End.

“In August of 2014 Tina Fontaine’s body was found on the Red River. For me, that was the last straw,” Executive Director of Bear Clan Inc., James Favel, said.


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RELATED: Death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine drives Manitoba volunteer searchers

Favel said the murder of the 15-year-old was the catalyst for change and what pushed the Bear Clan Patrol to hit the streets of Winnipeg.

It started with scaring off Johns and progressed to tracking down missing children and runaways.

RELATED: Leader of the Bear Clan opens up about volunteer group’s roots and plans for the future

Now, in 2018, Favel said the mandate continues to change.

“John traffic was the enemy. We were out there with flashlights and pen and papers and we were taking down license plates and that. Once you get out there you quickly realize there’s so much more going on,” Favel said.

The group, which initially started in 1992 but lost traction, was revived by Favel in 2014. He said it isn’t simply about patrolling the streets for Johns anymore.

“We are spending a whole lot more time dealing with the IV drug problem in our community,” Favel said.

READ MORE: Winnipeg’s Bear Clan co-founder experiences dirty needle scare

The group expanded from just 12 members in 2014 to include 100 volunteers, and now has over 980 people in our city alone.

It has also spread outside Winnipeg, spanning across 24 different communities in 12 cities in five provinces all the way from Ottawa to East Hastings in Vancouver.

RELATED: Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol launches in Regina, Kenora; more chapters in works

On Thursday, Mayor Brian Bowman announced $13,000 in funds to help the Bear Clan start patrols in Winnipeg’s West End.

READ MORE: City of Winnipeg increases funding for downtown safety and Bear Clan pro-action

While it spreads its reach through Winnipeg and Manitoba, Favel said it intends to expand to as many provinces and cities as needed.

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