The Bear Clan Patrol is expanding into Kenora.
The Ontario government announced the news with an $800,000 investment in the creation of a one-year pilot project.
The Kenora Bear Clan Patrol will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist vulnerable and at-risk residents who are experiencing homelessness and living with mental health and addictions issues.
The Ontario government says the patrol will serve as an intermediary between the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and local crisis response services and will provide a range of services such as transportation to a hospital or treatment centre, providing basic resources such as food and water and helping people find shelter.
“As a result of physical distancing and isolation measures, COVID-19 has worsened our mental health and addiction challenges for Kenora’s most-vulnerable population, creating an increased need for services and assistance,” said Sylvia Jones, solicitor general.
“By partnering with the Bear Clan Patrol, we are helping the community address challenges, while also allowing the OPP to focus their time and resources on community safety issues.”
The pilot project could be expanded in the future to other areas in the province of Ontario.
The year-long pilot with the Kenora Bear Clan Patrol will run until the end of July 2021.
“COVID-19 has pushed to the breaking point all the social issues facing our people such as homelessness, mental health and addictions issues, and lack of employment opportunities. It is our hope indigenous-led projects such as this can be a positive step forward towards addressing these growing concerns,” said Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh of Grand Council Treaty #3.
The Bear Clan Patrol was created in Winnipeg in 2015 as a community-based solution to crime prevention that has several chapters across Canada.
The local chapter in Winnipeg has since expanded to include their den, which hands out food and clothing donations to people in need.