Filipino watch group starts up with the help of the Bear Clan Patrol
204 Neighbourhood Watch going on its 1st patrol Monday night
A new neighbourhood watch group made up of the city's Filipino community says they've been inspired by the Bear Clan Patrol and they're set to hit the streets of Winnipeg.
They call themselves the 204 Neighbourhood Watch and they will be going out on their first patrol on Monday night, with guidance from Bear Clan members and founder James Favel.
"It's actually a group of volunteers and the direction is to do something like the Bear Clan is doing but we are starting with the Filipino community," said Leila Castro, who started the group.
"Later on we would like to go multicultural because everybody is part of the community."
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A few months ago, a member of the Filipino community who lives by Castro posted on Facebook how his daughter had been robbed by two men with machetes, Castro said.
There is a group on the social media site with about 30,000 Manitoba-based Filipinos and Castro said everyone started asking what could be done.
"We need to act as a community and we need to do something to address it," Castro said.
That's when the idea of a neighbourhood watch group came up.
"We all decided that we shouldn't reinvent the wheel because there is something that is happening already that is very effective, and that is what the Bear Clan is doing," Castro said.
She reached out to Favel and asked for guidance. He joined the group's soft launch meeting and told them about his experience starting the Bear Clan.
But Castro and some other members also decided it was important to learn on the ground — so they joined the Bear Clan on patrol.
"We had a lot of input from that experience. That was very powerful, that was very effective," she said.
They learned the practical side of patrolling, like how to deal with drug paraphernalia and make sure everyone is safe.
The most important lesson, Castro said, was how the Bear Clan reconnects the community by just greeting people on the street.
"[The point is] to bring back the community to how it traditionally was, which is knowing your neighbours, caring for them and having safety in mind for the community," she said.
The inaugural patrol will see the new group meeting at 930 Jefferson Ave., beside the Giant Tiger, at 6 p.m. before they walk the nearby streets. The area was chosen because it's where the robbery that sparked the group happened, Castro said.
She expects about 15 volunteers from the Filipino community as well as their Bear Clan guides. In the long term, Castro said she hopes they will go out once and week and attract more volunteers.
She said the idea has really been embraced by the community, particularly since many came to the city to find a better life for their families.
"We can always capitalize on one thing in common and this is love for our families… that we want our children and family members to be safe and wanting to have a community that we want to live in," she said.
"During nighttime we sleep peacefully because we know that there is a community that cares for my children and I am part of a community that cares for the children of other families."