Northwest Watchers join Bear Clan Patrol
Northwest Winnipeg neighbourhoods are now a little bit safer thanks to a new chapter of Bear Clan Patrol.
After seeing a string of social media posts about break-ins and vandalism, Garry Alejo — whose lived in the Meadows West neighbourhood for nearly a decade — helped form a community-run watch group called Northwest Watchers Patrol Group.
“It started as a community initiative in 2004,” Alejo said. “The first meeting was on my driveway, and then we moved into a community centre.”
Alejo says the newly-named Bear Clan Patrol Northwest, which were dubbed an official chapter of the organization last month, will focus on creating a presence in the community rather than crime intervention.
According to unofficial data published by the Winnipeg Police Service, crime in the Inkster community (including the neighbourhoods Brooklands, Burrows-Keewatin, Inkster Gardens, Inkster Industrial Park, North Inkster Industrial, Tyndall Park, Oak Point Highway, Pacific Industrial, Shaughnessy Park, Weston and Weston Shops) rose between April 2017 and April 2020, but dropped between April 2020 and April 2021.
The Bear Clan Patrol Northwest’s inaugural patrol under its new name took place on Feb. 12 at Tyndall Park Community Centre (2255 King Edward St.).
“This is a very unique chapter of Bear Clan Patrol because most of our members have day jobs. We have two members that are registered nurses, and we always have one on patrol with us,” Alejo said. “This group is more diverse than the other chapters. We have Ukrainian members, Filipino members and Indigenous members. We’re professionals, but we see these people as equals.”
The most pressing issues Alejo comes across in Northwest Winnipeg are vandalism and break-ins. There aren’t as many needles scattered in the streets compared to the North End, West End or West Broadway, but Alejo and his team does come across them in Gilbert Park and Shaughnessy Park.
“We try to connect with people and help instead of criticizing them,” Alejo said. “We don’t know them, we don’t know what happened to them, so we’re non-judgmental. We bring some food, we bring some clothing.”
Residents have provided a lot of positive feedback on the group’s efforts, Alejo says.
“We started from my driveway and proved to them we could do it, and now we’re Bear Clan,” he added. “We’re trying to unite the community.”
Residents who’d like to know more or are interested in joining the group can contact Alejo on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Bear-Clan-Patrol-NorthWest-108047735031562
Kelsey James is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She graduated from Red River College’s creative communications program in 2018 as a journalism major and holds a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric, writing and communications from the University of Winnipeg. A lifelong Winnipegger who grew up in southwest Winnipeg, Kelsey is thrilled to be covering the neighbourhoods she still calls “home.”