Winnipeg winter storm: Bear Clan Patrol handing out supplies, warm clothes to unhoused

With possible snow and freezing rain coming to Manitoba on the weekend, the North End Bear Clan Patrol has geared up to make sure it can still get out on its patrols to deliver supplies to people in the city. Joanne Roberts has the story.

Winnipeggers are bracing for a major winter storm, with snow and freezing rain expected over the weekend.

Many organizations, including Bear Clan Patrol, are preparing to go out and help the city’s unhoused population make it through the next few days.

“We’re always prepared to get out, so we have a bunch of jackets all ready to go,” said Bear Clan Patrol executive director Kevin Walker. “We’ve put our mitts and toques into bags and now it’s just a matter of getting the volunteers out to help us get it out.

“Any time we can get out is always necessary, especially now with the changing of the weather.”

Walker says his group of volunteers are used to going out on patrol, no matter what kind of weather comes their way.

This weekend, Walker says they’re planning on using their van to make sure Winnipeg’s unhoused population gets the supplies they need so they can stay warm.

“Walking with the wagons, we can get out quite a bit of resources,” he explained. “But it’s only two wagons full. When we get out with the mobile, we can take our big van. It’s a transport van so we can take the seats out, we can get a lot more warm clothing in. A lot more toques, gloves, mitts, things like that.”

Bear Clan Patrol’s Kevin Walker says volunteers and supplies are always needed, especially as weather changes. (Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

The North End patrol’s new lead coordinator, Melissa Robinson, says the plan is to get into homeless encampments.

“Check where these camps are located along the river, any tucked away under the bridges, places like that, to ensure that they have all the proper and essential needs that they’re gonna need to withstand the storm,” Robinson said.

Robinson, who has been walking with the patrol for more than five years, adds donations for clothing are still needed.

“We’re getting pretty grim,” Robinson said. “We’re at the end of winter so, of course, as soon as things come in they go right back out. So we don’t have much left, so of course we’re always looking for more.

“We want to ensure that they have a proper winter parka. Ski pants if we have any to get out. Warm socks, proper shoes, toques, mitts, scarves, blankets if we have any, things like that.”

Melissa Robinson says the Bear Clan Patrol is checking different locations to make sure no one is missed once the storm arrives. (Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Bear Clan Patrol says if anyone is looking to help distribute supplies, it’s ready to have people join them right away.

“We’re looking to get out as many people as we can,” Walker said. “So if there’s any volunteers out there looking to volunteer with us, get a hold of us on our webpage or contact the numbers provided.”

Environment Canada says Winnipeg is likely going to be seeing a mixture of show and freezing rain through to Sunday, with snow continuing until Monday.

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