True North Aid is working with the Kenora Bear Clan to purchase and outfit a shipping container so that the group is able to store and access goods. This will help them support the community and the homeless individuals that they serve with clothing, food, and other essential items.
The Bear Clan was first created in 2015 in Winnipeg after the death of Tina Fontaine. Now, there are several Chapters across Canada, with its newest being in Kenora.
Having an organization such as the Bear Clan enhances safety on the streets. They can assist in helping marginalized persons, who may be in compromised positions or conditions, get from the streets to various services. This would be extremely beneficial to the person being helped, the police, and the community. Further, this can be done by the Bear Clan in a culturally safe manner, and very importantly, done without further stigmatization to the person who is being serviced.
The Bear Clan will be able to build relationships with those most vulnerable in the community and be seen as a helping hand to lend a ride or provide that much-needed guidance in a more appropriate manner than police response. The Bear Clan members’ patrol will coincide with identified peak times for calls for service by the OPP and local businesses will be able to call the Bear Clan as the first resort to non-violent incidents of public intoxication, unwanted persons or openly drinking alcohol. The Bear Clan will attend and speak to those involved and attempt to resolve the situation in a non-violent and non-confrontational manner.
The Bear Clan is a community-based solution to crime prevention, intending to provide a sense of safety, solidarity, and belonging to both its members and to the communities they serve. This is achieved in a non-violent, non-threatening, non-judgmental, and supportive manner primarily through relationship building and reconciliation. The Bear Clan will work closely with the Police, Kenora District Services Board, Mobile Outreach Programs, other Emergency Services, Morningstar Detoxification Center, and the Lake of the Woods District Hospital to ensure people in need receive prompt and appropriate care.
Currently, the City of Kenora is in the midst of a methamphetamine and fentanyl crisis. Kenora also has a very similar urban Indigenous population to Winnipeg. There are many Indigenous persons, upwards of 230 homeless, living on the streets of Kenora.
This team will offer their services to the homeless, those intoxicated and those who choose to or are forced to live on the streets. They can answer calls from individuals, businesses, emergency service providers and other agencies – help move people to safer locations better suited to assist in their needs.
As well the Bear Clan can help to reduce the number of First Responder calls by proactively connecting people with supports and help; instead of the current situation whereby individuals receive help when they are in a state of crisis.