Bear Clan Patrol expands to Regina, Kenora

Winnipeg's Bear Clan Patrol is expanding to two new provinces.

Winnipeg volunteer search team launches its Kenora branch Tuesday during Aboriginal Day ceremonies

The Bear Clan Patrol helped search for Delaine Copenace in Winnipeg's North End in March while there was still hope she'd be found alive. Copenace's remains were later found in the Lake of the Woods area. (Justin Frase/CBC)

Winnipeg's Bear Clan Patrol is expanding.

A Kenora branch of the volunteer outreach program officially launches Tuesday. And last Friday, a branch in Regina, called the White Pony Lodge, had its first patrols.

"It's really quite validating. It's encouraging to know that our model is strong and the people are adopting it in other jurisdictions. For me, it's a huge sign of success," said James Favel, leader of the Bear Clan Patrol in Winnipeg.

It's encouraging to know that our model is strong and the people are adopting it in other jurisdictions. For me, it's a huge sign of success.- James  Favel , leader Bear Clan Patrol, Winnipeg

Favel will be in Kenora, Ont. Tuesday morning to officially launch the local group during ceremonies marking Aboriginal Day.

Favel has been in talks with groups from Regina, Sask. and Kenora over the last several months.

Both groups also came to Winnipeg to consult with Favel and his team.

"We offered them any support they needed. We gave them a copy of our policy manuals and go back to their respective communities... we told them to go ahead and edit it and develop it for the needs of your community.

Favel is gratified by the expansion.

"It's a relief. I've been struggling to find a solution to help my community and other communities like ours so having them buy in like this is, it shows me I'm on the right path."

Favel has also had requests for information from communities in Labrador, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and B.C.

"There's no reason why this couldn't go nation wide," Favel said.

The Winnipeg-based group had its first patrol on May 12, 2015.

The group patrols the city's North End and other neighbourhoods looking for people in distress, reaching out to the vulnerable and helping at-risk women and youth.

Their mandate has grown to include helping in the search for the missing.

The Bear Clan has taken part in several high-profile cases in Manitoba, including recent searches for 17-year-old Cooper Nemeth, two-year-old Chase Martens and missing Kenora teenager Delaine Copenace.
Winnipeg's Bear Clan Patrol started in 1992 but after several years went on hiatus. The 2014 death of Tina Fontaine prompted the group to start up its work again in the city. (CBC)