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Winnipeg’s Bear Clan feeling COVID-19 stress but still working for community

James Favel, Executive Director of Bear Clan Patrol Inc.
James Favel, Executive Director of Bear Clan Patrol Inc. Amber McGuckin/Global News

The coronavirus crisis hasn’t slowed down Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol — it’s just changed the way they do business.

James Favel, Bear Clan’s executive director, told 680 CJOB the community organization can’t actively patrol Winnipeg’s inner-city streets due to the pandemic and social distancing, but they’re continuing to help those in need behind the scenes.

But it’s taking a toll, he said.

“It’s made things very uncomfortable,” said Favel. “We’re trying to keep busy and keep going. Patrols are just impossible right now, so we’re trying to do mobile [patrols] and get that organized and working effectively.
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“Because we’re limited to how many people we can have in the building, my staff are becoming overworked and tired.

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“There’s a lot going on, and it’s having a very hard impact on us here on the front lines.”

Favel said Bear Clan volunteers will be replacing the typical foot patrols with vehicle patrols, but still doing the same work the organization has become known for.

READ MORE: Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol expands to Elmwood neighbourhood

“We’re going to be using mobile vehicles, going and checking on vulnerable people and bringing out sandwiches and things like that,” he said.

“Still trying to be present in the community and be that resource for our community members that are living rough.”

Because so many other community organizations have had to close their doors due to the coronavirus, Favel said the Bear Clan has been inundated with donations for its food distribution program.

For now, he said, there’s nothing the group needs from the public other than to stay self-isolated and healthy.

“Stay safe, stay at home, do the right thing,” he said.

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“We’re functioning, we have our providers out there… we don’t need anyone running out to stores and picking something up, trying to bring it to us.

“For now, stay home, stay safe and we’ll get through this all together.”

Click to play video 'Winnipeg Bear Clan assists Canadian Red Cross' Winnipeg Bear Clan assists Canadian Red Cross
Winnipeg Bear Clan assists Canadian Red Cross – Oct 17, 2019