An organization working to keep people safe and secure on the streets of Winnipeg has now partnered with Winnipeg Police to launch a new initiative that they hope will help to find missing people in the city and bring them home.
On Thursday, members of the Bear Clan Patrol Inc. and the Winnipeg Police (WPS) gathered at the Bear Clan’s Winnipeg headquarters on Selkirk Avenue to announce the launch of a new Facebook page that will be run by the Bear Clan organization and dedicated to communicating with and getting information out to the public regarding missing person cases.
“We’re extremely excited to have these tools available to our community, which will provide a valuable resource for the city’s most vulnerable,” Bear Clan Patrol executive director Kevin Walker said.
Bear Clan says the new page will give the public and loved ones of missing people another option for communicating directly with the group’s volunteers, who in turn could help determine what steps could and should be taken regarding contacting the police or other law enforcement about a missing person.
It will also allow people to make missing persons reports directly with the Bear Clan and offer features like a checklist of possible questions that people could be asked if they make a missing persons report to the police.
Sgt. Andrea Scott of the WPS missing persons and counter-exploitation units said police see an average of about 7,000 missing persons cases a year in Winnipeg, and that is why they believe it is important to partner with groups like the Bear Clan to help them search for missing people, and get information from and out to the public.
Scott said the WPS acknowledges that some people who need assistance feel more comfortable reaching out to organizations like the Bear Clan first, before reaching out to police.
“It’s a large amount of reports to work through and to work with families, so anytime we can partner with additional agencies that can help us and help each other, I think it’s a really positive thing,” she said.
The Bear Clan Patrol is a grassroots not-for-profit organization that sees volunteers patrol the streets of Winnipeg neighborhoods, and help people to deal with unsafe and high-risk situations in what they said are “non-violent and non-threatening ways.”
Angela Klassen, the Bear Clan Patrol’s West Broadway Co-ordinator, said recently she has seen an increased need for services dedicated to helping find missing people, adding that the Bear Clan has proven it is willing and able to help people when they are looking for someone who has gone missing.
“The Bear Clan patrol has been instrumental in helping find missing persons and reuniting families,” Klassen said. “Our involvement in the Winnipeg Police missing persons unit has grown in the last year, however, we have determined it’s an important issue, and it needs its own dedicated space.”
Klassen said that between February and July of this year, 96 missing persons cases were reported to the Bear Clan, and the group has played a role in helping to locate 45 missing people connected to those reports.
Klassen said the Bear Clan also wants to be an organization that can be there for families of missing people and to show them support as they search for their loved ones.
“For a lot of the families their spirit is broken, their heart is broken so they are lost, so when we take on a missing persons case I get really involved a lot of the times with the families,” she said.
“Maybe mom and dad are having a breakdown and I say, ‘Call me and I will be there and walk you through it,' so I often speak to families several times a day.”
The Bear Clan Patrol Missing Persons Facebook page was officially launched on Thursday and can be found by visiting facebook.com/BearClanMissingPersons
Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun