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This article was published 4/5/2020 (375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Bear Clan Patrol has massively changed its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The community organization has halted most of its patrols across the city, switching their focus to their food distribution service. The organization still maintains a small mobile patrol, which covers the West End, West Broadway, North End and elsewhere.
The Bear Clan’s mobile patrol is checking in on residents and picking up syringes and other drug paraphernalia. James Favel, Bear Clan Inc. executive director, estimates that the patrol picked up 500 needles last Wednesday.
The patrol handles food distribution out of their den located at 584 Selkirk Ave.
According to Bear Clan organizers, Winnipeg’s issues with poverty and crime have not diminished. In fact, the need for their services has only increased due to the pandemic.
Favel said marginalized communities are struggling to get by. The organization has started a hamper program, delivering fresh food and produce to families who struggle to pay their bills.
"That’s the thing, for corporations and businesses, they can close their doors or work from home. For people in (marginalized communities), they’re still living their lives day-to-day," Favel said. "Nothing is being done for people on EIA. With most services shut down, it’s harder for them to get help … When we bring hampers to their doors, sometimes they get tears in their eyes, because (the donation) is what they’re surviving on."
Favel said the Bear Clan is feeding upwards of 350 people a day. Favel himself assists with the food program, he’ll drive his truck to pick up a donation, drive back to the den, work with five volunteers to help unload everything, before hopping back in his truck to do it again.
Normally, the food distribution program has several volunteers who assist with unloading his truck. But due to the physical distancing measures, the Bear Clan has fewer volunteers.
Favel said they’ve received an influx of food donations coming from big chain department stores to private citizens.
"Because a lot of other service providers have (closed), we’re getting a big influx of donations. We’re working with places like Winnipeg Harvest, Costco, Giant Tiger … It’s really quite amazing," Favel said. "Sometimes we have (residents) who just show up with a truckload of food. It’s really heartwarming to see how the community is coming together."
Favel also praised all the Bear Clan volunteers who are working hard to help people in these trying times.
The Bear Clan is still in need of donations. For more information visit bearclanpatrol.org
The Metro community journalist
Justin Luschinski is the community journalist for The Metro. Email him at email@example.com