Manitoba

Bear Clan co-founder James Favel replaced as executive director

James Favel is no longer serving as the executive director of the Bear Clan Patrol, the Winnipeg-based community crime prevention organization he helped revive.

'Some internal things going on, but I can't really comment on specifics,' board chair says

Outgoing executive director James Favel led the Bear Clan Patrol for six years and helped relaunch it in August 2014. (John Einarson/CBC)

James Favel is no longer serving as the executive director of the Bear Clan Patrol, the Winnipeg-based community crime prevention organization he helped revive.

Bear Clan Patrol Inc. said in a Friday news release it has appointed Kevin Walker, who started as a volunteer with the citizen patrol before becoming a lead co-ordinator, as interim executive director.

Shaneen Robinson-Desjarlais, board chair of Bear Clan Patrol Inc., was "not really at liberty to share specifics" about why Favel is no longer serving as executive director, she told CBC News Friday evening.

She said the decision was finalized by the Bear Clan Patrol's board of directors some time within the past couple of days.

"There are some internal things going on, but I can't really comment on specifics," she said. "But we do wish James well in the future and hope that he does well on his journey."

Asked if Favel would be allowed to volunteer or serve in any other capacity with the group in the future, Robinson said she was "not sure what the future holds."

"At this point, all I can say is that he is no long the executive director of Bear Clan, and I can't really get into any more details about that right now."

Favel served in the executive director role for six years, and was one of three people who helped revive the Bear Clan Patrol in August 2014, after the body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg.

"During his tenure, a number of initiatives have led to the successful expansion of Bear Clan Patrol Inc. into a respected and well-loved organization that has inspired like-minded groups across Canada," the Bear Clan's Friday news release said.

CBC News reached out to Favel for comment. He said he will address the situation after the long weekend.

Kevin Walker started as a volunteer with Bear Clan Patrol, then became an employee. He has been appointed as interim executive director of the community safety group. (Submitted by Bear Clan Patrol Inc.)

Meanwhile, Kevin Walker will be filling the executive director role.

"We're really excited about it," said Robinson-Desjarlais. "Kevin is a really great guy and really well-known in our community to all of our volunteers, our staff and the people that we have," she said.

"He's part of his community, he lives in this community, he walks with our patrols. He works in the den and helps with the food program, and is one of our staff members. Really, it was just a perfect fit for this interim role."

It has yet to be determined how long Walker will serve as executive director, said Robinson-Desjarlais, but he'll be helping during the course of Bear Clan Patrol's transition.

She stressed that Bear Clan Patrol, as a whole, is "committed to this community and keeping our community safe."

The Bear Clan Patrol was originally established in 1992, out of a need to provide security for the Indigenous community in Winnipeg's North End. Robinson-Desjarlais, whose uncle David Blacksmith was an original founder, said protection of Indigenous women and girls were a main priority.

After several years, though, the volunteer safety group went on hiatus until the summer of 2014.

Favel was one of three people who helped bring back the community group. At the time, it only had 12 volunteers, a budget of $900, and only served the Dufferin area in Winnipeg.

About six full years later, with Favel at the helm, Bear Clan Patrol grew to roughly 1,700 volunteers throughout Winnipeg and has sister organizations across Canada. Last year's financial contributions reached $1.5 million, Favel told CBC News in February.

About the Author

Nicholas Frew is an online reporter based in Winnipeg. Hailing from Newfoundland, Frew moved to Halifax to attend journalism school before moving to Winnipeg. Prior to joining CBC Manitoba, Frew interned at the Winnipeg Free Press. Story idea? Email at nick.frew@cbc.ca

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