Manitoba

Winnipeg Bear Clan board member should step down following social media posts: co-founder

The head of Winnipeg's Bear Clan says he wants a board member gone after a series of tweets, including one that said those calling for police defunding not be allowed to use 911.

James Favel says Rejeanne Caron doesn't represent the views of organization

Bear Clan co-founder and executive director James Favel said the comments made by one of the organization's board members on Twitter were "problematic to the highest level." (John Einarson/CBC)

The head of Winnipeg's Bear Clan says he wants a board member gone after a series of Twitter posts, including one where she allegedly suggested people who want police budgets reduced be blocked from calling 911.

The tweets from Rejeanne Caron's twitter account are no longer publicly viewable, but Bear Clan co-founder and executive director James Favel said they were "problematic to the highest level."

"It's remarkable and shocking that we could have somebody with that mindset in our group for so long," Favel said.

CBC News reached Caron, who declined to comment.

In her Twitter profile, Caron identifies herself as a frontline police officer and a former Conservative party candidate for the 2019 federal election. 

Along with being a Bear Clan Board Member, she also says she's a sex crimes investigator and francophone Métis.

"The views expressed are my own," her bio reads.

Rejeanne Caron's twitter bio lists her as a frontline police officer, Conservative party candidate, sex crimes investigator, Bear Clan board member and Francophone Métis. Her account is now locked to the public. (Twitter/Rejeanne_caron)

Petition started to have Caron removed

An online petition has now been started by an unnamed Bear Clan volunteer to have Caron removed from the organization's board.

The petition has more than 1,000 signatures. CBC News reached out to the author of the petition, who declined an interview.

The petition lists examples of some of Caron's tweets, retweets and replies, which allegedly include denying systemic racism in policing exists and saying that Chief Allan Adam was lying after he accused Fort McMurray RCMP of assault.

Other tweets of Caron's allegedly include calling the Black Lives Matter movement "new terrorists" and using the hashtag #AllLivesMatter, according to the petition.

She also openly criticized a number of elected representatives, including the prime minister, according to Favel.

"We are not here to vilify anyone. She's exercising her democratic right to free speech and we respect that," he said.

But Favel said the issue is that Bear Clan is not supposed to be political, and the views Caron is expressing are "diametrically opposed to the way we conduct ourselves and the way we think."

'I made a colossal mistake': Favel

Favel, who founded the Bear Clan as an Indigenous-led, grassroots street patrol group in Winnipeg, said all volunteers and staff have to follow a code of conduct on social media posting.

If board members aren't currently bound by the code, they should be, he said.

"I bear all the responsibility for this. I chose her to be on the board. I feel that I made a colossal mistake here," Favel said.

Caron is currently still a board member, which she has been since 2018, Favel confirmed.

It will be up to the board to remove her, he said.

"To me, it's a no-brainer. She should be asked to step down, but they haven't done that yet," he said. "The board needs to be responsive to this, and needs to act quicker."

Board meeting to discuss future of Caron

Board chair Brian Chrupalo, who is also a police officer, said the board plans to meet to discuss the future of Caron soon.

Chrupalo said they'll hear all sides of the story before making a decision, and will be making more comments in the future.

"I hope people aren't going to judge the whole organization based on one incident, which again, I don't have the full details of," Chrupalo said.

The board had previously posted to The Bear Clan's Facebook page, which has since been deleted.

"The board of Bear Clan Patrol wishes to state unequivocally that these comments do not in any way represent the views of the board of Bear Clan Inc.," the post previously read.

About the Author

Marina von Stackelberg is a CBC journalist based in Winnipeg. She previously worked for CBC in Halifax and Sudbury. Connect with her @CBCMarina or marina.von.stackelberg@cbc.ca

now