Manitoba

Bear Clan Patrol keeps Winnipeg youths on right path with mock patrol

About a dozen members of the Bear Clan Patrol took youths on a mock patrol through the inner city Monday afternoon to show them how the organization tries to address real social issues on Winnipeg streets.

Youths need to be aware of risks so they can protect themselves, Bear Clan leader James Favel says

James Favel holds up a used syringe he and other members of the Bear Clan Patrol came across during a mock patrol with youth Monday in Winnipeg's inner city. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

About a dozen members of the Bear Clan Patrol took youths on a mock patrol through the inner city Monday afternoon to show them how the organization tries to address real social issues on Winnipeg streets.

The six youths who took part ranged in age from 10 to 19, said organizer and Bear Clan leader James Favel. They were accompanied by 12 Bear Clan volunteers.

Bear Clan Patrol keeps Winnipeg youths on right path with mock patrol

CBC News Manitoba

5 years ago
1:04
About a dozen members of the Bear Clan Patrol took youths on a mock patrol through the inner city Monday afternoon to show them how the organization tries to address real social issues on Winnipeg streets. 1:04

"We're trying to engage the youth. That's been part of our program from the very beginning," Favel said.

The youths were connected with Bear Clan through Seven Oaks School Division's Wayfinders program and Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre.

The children and teens saw first-hand some of the realities members of the patrol face every night.

"We want to change the way they think so when they're older they're not trying to get into those same negative cycles," he said.

A Bear Clan Patrol volunteer takes part in a mock patrol Monday to expose youths to realities on the street, such as drug abuse. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The Bear Clan normally conducts its patrols well after nightfall — the organization functions as both a community watch group and a search party if there's a missing person.

For this mock patrol, volunteers led the walk during daylight hours. Still, they came across used needles and an exploited woman in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The youths were able to see compassion and kindness in action as volunteers spoke with the woman. They were also shown how the Bear Clan safely disposes of needles.

"Now if they see a needle in the street they know what to do with it," Favel said.

One of the 14-year-old participants said he joined the mock patrol Monday for practical reasons.

"I thought it would be fun and had nothing else to do," he said. 

But the walk showed him a different side to Winnipeg. He said he and his friends often hang out under bridges and he said was surprised to learn what goes on at night in those same places.
Bear Clan's James Favel says at least one youth expressed an interest in volunteering with the organization after taking part in Monday's walk. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

"Sometimes we don't think people are trying to live under a bridge … or inject needles," he said.

Favel said one purpose of the walk is to open the eyes of young people like that 14-year-old so they can stay out of harm's way.

"It's something they should be aware of so they can protect themselves better," said Favel.

Another goal of the mock patrols is to change misconceptions among youths about what the Bear Clan does — it's not about chasing down gangsters.

"We're taking care of the sociological issues in our community. We're trying to make everyone's life a little bit better," he said.

Despite the difficult issues at play, Favel hopes the youth had a positive experience.

"One of the youth here he's 19 years old, he's so impressed he's going to be coming back."

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