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A day with the Bear Clan

Indigenous group patrols the streets bringing a bit
of kindness to those who need it
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Bear Clan Patrol Group leader Judith Gale (in red) and volunteer Julie Burr sort supplies at Churchill Square.

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Gale gets ready to deliver necessities of life to the "brothers and sisters."

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Donated food sits in a Bear Clan Patrol
cart at Churchill Square.

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Gale moves one of the carts filled with food.

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Gale offers a cigarette to one
of the people Bear Clan serves.

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A coffee and muffin from the Bear Clan Patrol Group may be the high point of someone's day.

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Burr secures the lid of a cup of coffee.

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Gale and Burr talk with a couple of their regulars outside a pharmacy.

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Gale carries a set of NARCAN Nasal Sprays, a form of Naloxone, which is used to treat opioid overdoses.

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Photo feature by Tim Johnson

PATROLLING the streets of Downtown Edmonton early one morning, the Bear Clan Patrol Group makes frequent stops around the area to hand out necessities and help people who need it. At each stop, leader Judith Gale and volunteer Julie Burr talk to the homeless and check on their welfare.

“Bringing the necessity of life is like a good start,” Gale says. “And every person should start off with a good cup of coffee and a good meal in the morning. It helps our brothers and sisters make better decisions throughout their days.”

The patrol group began its patrols early in the pandemic, after many of the shelters temporarily closed. This left many of the homeless with little access to any support and fewer places to sleep. As the temperature outside began to drop, the situation got worse, with many people unable to obtain necessities fo life. This pushed the indigenous-led group to act, Gale says.

“We decided that we’d start a patrol in the mornings and bring out the necessities of life to our brothers and sisters because we feel that everybody should start off with the necessities of life, and food and water.”

The group runs seven patrols per week, with mornings dedicated to distributing supplies and evenings focused on harm reduction.

The group gets most supplies, including food, drinks, hygienic products and clothing, from various local donors

In addition to these operations, the patrol group also carries “missing-and-missed posters” to help families find  loved ones.

The patrols are just the beginning of a wave of good will, Gale says.

“It’s a rippling effect, because we’re spreading the good love, and that makes them feel good. They then, in turn, are spreading the love as well.”

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