Mark Brave Rock grew up in Moses Lake and went to school in Cardston. You may have seen him posting on social media lately about his new grassroots movement, SAGE Clan patrol. SAGE stands for Serve, Assist, Guard and Engage, and the Clan Patrol was created by Brave Rock to specialize in helping the homeless and those suffering from addiction. The clan patrols Lethbridge streets Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings providing food, blankets, and companionship to persons without homes. Sage Clan was started in October of 2018 and has had almost 200 volunteers since its creation.
Currently COVID-19 has changed the look of patrols that are now called ‘Covid Crisis Drive Patrols' with a maximum of four volunteers at one time wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and taking precautionary measures as they Serve, Assist, Guard and Engage. The group is not run by addictions experts, social workers, or police, but instead by peers -- people who understand the plight of another displaced person and have a desire to make a connection with them. Brave Rock himself has struggled with homelessness and addiction and has been sober nine years. He understands well that persons with addictions may need to enter detox centres a dozen or more times before they fully are able to create lasting change in their life.
Brave Rock says that his shared understanding with the people he meets on the streets is a large part of why SAGE clan patrol is successful. They are successful because “we don’t tell them ‘hey quit drinking and using drugs’, we just are there with them connecting.” Seeing the people they meet as equally human and accepting them regardless of what choices they are making enables these people to share their story and eventually have more desire to change their future. Brave Rock says “Sage Clan is recognized by the street people in Lethbridge. It’s beyond the symbol I wear on my vest, we are human to them -- family, community. If anybody walks out with us they notice. It doesn’t take long after a new patroller starts coming out before the people on the street would begin to trust that person. And wouldn’t feel ashamed of where they are at.”
Brave Rock’s beautiful initiative focuses on destigmatizing homelessness and addiction and recognizing the shared experience of humanity. It can be easy to focus on statistics and programming and the logistics that could go into solving homelessness, but Brave Rock calls for a more natural type of change. Many of these displaced people without homes in Lethbridge are your neighbours- neighbours from Laverne, Moses Lake, Standoff, and Cardston. In Brave Rock these people find a friend who is learning to “articulate experiences that could be understood and accepted to show credibility.” He says “let’s redefine what front line workers look like.”
As regular people patrol the streets and make connections and listen to stories and caring about a displaced person, that person starts caring for themselves and really believing they can quit. Everyone and anyone is accepted as volunteers. In fact Brave Rock said that not all of the volunteers are indigenous because anyone can do the job if they are genuine -- true people caring and sharing and learning how to take care of each other. If you are interested in joining a patrol you can email Brave Rock at email@example.com.
Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star