Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/2/2020 (842 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Bear Clan Patrol’s James Favel is used to travelling around Winnipeg’s North End, but he’s not quite as accustomed to visiting the Middle East.
That’s about to change.
On Saturday, the leader of the community watch group and do-it-all organization will board a flight for Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, where he’s been invited by the United Nations to participate in the next World Urban Forum.
"I haven’t left the country since I was eight years old, and I went to Fresno and Mexico City," he said Tuesday. "This is a little bit different."
Favel had no plans to board an international flight destined for the UAE, and the UN didn’t originally have him in mind, either. First, they extended an invitation to the leaders of Lethbridge’s SAGE Clan Patrol, an Albertan sibling of the Bear Clan.
When neither Martin Heavy Head Jr., nor his father could make it, they suggested Favel as a replacement. The Winnipeg leader received a letter on Saturday from Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the UN’s under-secretary general and the executive director of UN-Habitat, telling him to pack his bags.
"I was pretty floored," he said. "I know there are a couple of highnesses sitting at my table, and that’s pretty neat."
The forum will focus on issues related to urban development, housing, culture and innovation, all under the theme of "Cities of Opportunities." Attendees like Favel will have the opportunity to conduct a brief presentation about their organizations.
"We get five minutes to convey the best parts of what we do as Bear Clan," he said. It’s a tight time-frame to talk about the virtually endless work the organization has done since its founding in 2015.
"Right now, I’m just focused on getting my speech together. I’m going to rely heavily on my notes," he said.
Favel plans to touch on ideas of working proactively and not reactively, and creating access to resources free of barriers through community collaboration.
"But the biggest and most important part of the trip will be to listen and absorb," he added. Speakers from around the world will talk about what they’re doing in a traditional authorities roundtable, and Favel is excited to bring some new ideas home.
He and one of the patrol’s directors, a member of the Winnipeg Police Service, will fly out Saturday morning, and are scheduled to leave Abu Dhabi on Feb. 14.
"The opportunity to present on the world stage is very neat, and I hope I do it justice," he said.
"I still find it kind of baffling that people find what I have to say interesting," he said.
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.