Ontario Strengthening Community Safety in Kenora
One-year pilot project will help support the community’s most vulnerable
KENORA — The Ontario government is investing $800,000 to support the creation of a one-year pilot project with the Kenora Bear Clan Patrol that will strengthen community safety and well-being for the community's most vulnerable.
The Kenora Bear Clan Patrol will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist vulnerable and at-risk residents who are experiencing homelessness and living with mental health and addictions issues. The Patrol will serve as an intermediary between the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and local crisis response services and will provide a range of services such as transportation to a hospital or treatment centre, providing basic resources such as food and water and helping people find shelter.
"As a result of physical distancing and isolation measures, COVID-19 has worsened our mental health and addiction challenges for Kenora's most-vulnerable population, creating an increased need for services and assistance," said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. "By partnering with the Bear Clan Patrol, we are helping the community address challenges, while also allowing the OPP to focus their time and resources on community safety issues."
This innovative approach will ensure at-risk individuals are supported by people trained in trauma care who can provide an Indigenous-focused and Indigenous-led response to situations. If successful, the pilot project could be implemented in other regions where a culturally-sensitive response model may assist Ontario's most-vulnerable.
"Supporting the safety and well-being of Indigenous people in Ontario is an ongoing priority for our government," said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. "I'm pleased the province's partnership with the Bear Clan Patrol in Kenora will help ensure the needs of at-risk Indigenous community members are being met in a respectful and culturally appropriate manner."
"As Attorney General I'm committed to advancing new and innovative ways of keeping people safe in northern and remote communities," said Attorney General Doug Downey. "Our government's investment in the Kenora Bear Clan Patrol Project will help expand community-led public safety solutions and reduce the cycle of offending - goals shared by our Kenora Justice Centre pilot project."
- The year-long pilot with the Kenora Bear Clan Patrol will run until the end of July 2021.
- This initiative complements the $675,000 Community Safety and Policing Grant provided to Kenora’s Mobile Crisis and Outreach Team over three years from 2019 to 2022.
- Created in Winnipeg in 2015, the Bear Clan Patrol is a community-based solution to crime prevention that has several chapters across Canada.
- Patrollers wear high visibility vests and patrol the downtown core areas. The team includes a mobile support worker who can transport people by vehicle to hospitals and other locations.
“The OPP welcomes the Bear Clan Patrol Project as a way to provide culturally-sensitive support during situations involving vulnerable individuals who may be experiencing a mental health or addiction related crisis. Collaboration such as this between police and communities contributes greatly to community safety and well-being.”
“The Bear Clan Patrol is a positive way to protect vulnerable members of society and alleviate some of the struggles faced by disadvantaged people. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated social issues that many people in Kenora are facing, and this project is a promising step towards helping the city’s vulnerable community members. We look forward to monitoring their success and will advocate for similar initiatives to be implemented across the region.”
“We are happy to see support for the Bear Clan Patrol pilot project in Kenora. COVID-19 has pushed to the breaking point all the social issues facing our people such as homelessness, mental health and addictions issues, and lack of employment opportunities. It is our hope indigenous-led projects such as this can be a positive step forward towards addressing these growing concerns.”
Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh