Thunder Bay·Audio

Thunder Bay Bear Clan Patrol to be set up

Organizers in Thunder Bay, Ont. hope to have a local chapter of the Bear Clan Patrol operating in the northwestern Ontario city this winter.

Tuesday training session in Thunder Bay was to help recruit potential volunteers

Organizers in Thunder Bay, Ont. are working to start up a Bear Clan Patrol chapter in the northwestern Ontario city. (Bear Clan Patrol)

Organizers in Thunder Bay, Ont. hope to have a local chapter of the Bear Clan Patrol operating in the northwestern Ontario city this winter.

The grassroots, Indigenous-led initiative started in Winnipeg in 1992, and patrols the streets, looking for people in distress, reaching out to the vulnerable and helping at-risk women and youth. The volunteer outreach program's mandate has also grown to include helping in the search for the missing.

"If we're visible out there in the community, and promoting respect and care, then we can be part of dealing with some of these issues that continue to harm our people," said Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum, who is also one of the local chapter's organizers.

A training session was held Tuesday in Thunder Bay for potential volunteers.

Once the group gets started in the Lakehead, Achneepineskum said volunteers will do regular patrols, search for missing students, and get involved in community outreach.
Anna Betty Achneepineskum is a Deputy Grand Chief with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. (Amy Hadley / CBC)

It will be led by a council of mothers and grandmothers, she added.

"We would be visible, and we also would just talk with people and deliver mitts, hats, other things," Achneepineskum said, adding she hopes to get care packages made up soon.

The goal, she said, is to make Thunder Bay a safer place, adding that she hopes to have a more organized patrol in place by the time students come home from Christmas break.

The group is aiming to form partnerships with Thunder Bay police, the city, and other local stakeholders. 

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