A community patrol group with a presence in several Manitoba communities is expanding to Portage la Prairie with help from the municipality and the province.
The province announced Friday it’s providing $31,000 to the RCMP detachment in Portage la Prairie, about 85 kilometres west of Winnipeg, to support its partnership with the Bear Clan citizen patrol group.
“A program like this has been a long time coming,” Portage resident Amber Beaulieu told CBC News in July, when the group began to mobilize. She is heading up the effort to bring the patrol group to Portage.
“I’ve worked in the school system … I work with a lot of youth,” she said. “Unfortunately, statistically, a lot of youth are getting involved with [drugs].”
The province says the money will be used to train patrol members on first aid, mental health first aid, cultural sensitivity and the use of naloxone.
It will also help equip patrol members with supplies like radios, flashlights and branded coats, so the members of the group are visible in the community.
“The Bear Clan’s growing number of helpers are there when they’re needed, building on the dedication and vision of those who have made the original patrol in Winnipeg the success it is today,” said Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke in a release Friday.
The Community Foundation of Portage and District also presented the Bear Clan with $20,000 on Friday.
“Our mission is to help fund local community priorities and we unanimously agreed there was a need for this program,” said Blair Geisel who sits on the board of the foundation in a release.
Last year, the province provided nearly $200,000 in funding for the Winnipeg group.
Bear Clan has a presence in several Manitoba communities, including in Winnipeg’s North End, West End, and West Broadway neighbourhoods, as well as in Brandon, Selkirk and Opaskwayak Cree Nation.