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.
“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.”
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 addiction 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.
“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.”