Winnipeg Bear Clan board member steps down following outcry over social media posts
Petition demanding Rejeanne Caron's removal garnered more than 2,000 signatures
A board member of Bear Clan Patrol in Winnipeg has stepped down from her position, days after a series of tweets she posted led to a petition demanding her removal.
The tweets from Rejeanne Caron's account, which is no longer publicly viewable, included one where she allegedly suggested people who want police budgets reduced be blocked from calling 911.
The board of the Indigenous-led, grassroots street patrol group was ready to remove Caron from her position at a meeting on Thursday, says Bear Clan co-founder and executive director James Favel. However, she resigned before that happened.
"Thankfully, we had set things in motion but we didn't have to act on it," Favel said on Friday.
Neither Caron nor Bear Clan board chair Brian Chrupalo, who is also a police officer, responded to interview requests from CBC News.
Earlier this week, Favel described his choice to have Caron sit on the organization's board of directors as "a colossal mistake," and called on the board to ask her to step down. He said Bear Clan is not supposed to be political, and the views Caron expressed were "diametrically opposed to the way we conduct ourselves and the way we think."
In a public statement, Caron said Favel has used the controversy "to build his own public and political persona."
"I refuse to let Bear Clan be used in such a way, and refuse to be someone else's political stepping stone," she said in a statement sent out on Thursday announcing her departure from the organization.
"I proudly protect my community. I proudly serve my community. And I'll continue to do both those things despite attempts by anyone else to throw mud for their own gain, and use me as their political pawn."
Bear Clan 'in need of change': Caron
The online petition to have Caron removed from her position, which was started by an unnamed Bear Clan volunteer, garnered 2,051 signatures.
It lists examples of some of Caron's tweets, retweets and replies, which allegedly include denying the existence of systemic racism in policing 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.
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 now-retired 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.
Caron said the events of the past week have shown Bear Clan "is in need of change" and called for Favel to be replaced as executive director.
Favel says the organization will be making a change — but not the one Caron suggested.
"Thinking forward, we would like to have protocols in place to cover these kinds of things. Having never had this situation come up, we were kind of stymied with, 'What do we do next?'" he said.
"We're going to be putting into our bylaws certain protocols now that will make these kinds of situations go smoother."
With files from Laissa Pamou and Marina von Stackelberg