Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol Inc. has cut ties with the group’s Thunder Bay chapter.

Bear Clan Patrol Inc. executive director James Favel said Tuesday that the decision came as a result of what he called “divisive” rhetoric being posted on the Thunder Bay group’s Facebook page over the past several months.

“Bottom line is our mission and values have not been respected by the Bear Clan chapter in Thunder Bay,” Favel told CBC News. “Our platform is never to be used to attack or incite or divide, and unfortunately, that is what we’re seeing out of Thunder Bay.”

“We worked for the last seven or so months trying to get them to come back in line,” he said. “The last thing we want to do is have to say ‘you can’t do Bear Clan anymore,’ that’s not what we want, but we’ve had no alternative but to pull the pin because the behaviours that we’re seeing out there are just not in line with our mission and values.”

New group being formed

Favel said Bear Clan Patrol Inc. is already talking to another group about restarting an officially sanctioned Bear Clan chapter. A new Facebook page has been set up for the new group, but Favel was reluctant to provide many details at this stage.

“We have a group of people out there that want to carry on, so we are going to facilitate that as best as possible,” he said.

As for the former Thunder Bay Bear Clan chapter, Favel said complaints about its posts started coming in the summer, that the group was inciting fear and hatred with its posts.

“The language that they’re using is not conducive to good relations,” Favel said. “They keep mentioning ‘settler’ and ‘colonial’ and ‘ally’ and things like that, which automatically puts you in a kind of adversarial role.”

“Our mission and mandate is not that,” he said. “It’s about unity, it’s about reconciliation, it’s about support. So we don’t do things that cause people to panic and cause fear in people, that’s not what we do.”

Allegations about police

Specifically, Favel said there were some “baseless” allegations about Thunder Bay police that were troubling, including claims that police were running “starlight tours” — in which people are driven to the outskirts of a city and abandoned there —  and that there was a group of police officers in the city “targeting” Indigenous people.

Favel, however, said that the local group wouldn’t return his calls, and removed him as an administrator on their Facebook page, so he didn’t have any control over what was posted.

Favel said the Bear Clan’s head office is not directly involved with the many local Bear Clan chapters, but if the local chapters use the Bear Clan name, there are certain rules they must adhere to. One of those, he said, is giving him admin access on Facebook pages.

However, Favel said the Bear Clan revoked the Thunder Bay chapter’s right to use the Bear Clan logo and name, and filed a trademark infringement complaint with Facebook to get the Thunder Bay group’s page taken down.

Page removed

The page appears to have been removed on Tuesday.

Now, a search for Bear Clan Thunder Bay turns up a new page, which was created on Feb. 19, 2019.

A post on the page refers to it as the officially sanctioned page for Thunder Bay’s Bear Clan chapter, and states that more information will be coming soon.

Representatives of the former Thunder Bay Bear Clan chapter did not return a request for comment on Tuesday.

However, a response to the allegations was posted on the group’s Facebook page, prior to the page being taken down.

The response states the accusations the group was inciting division and hatred were false, and the group was being misrepresented.

The group said it wants to see more energy devoted to poverty-reduction, shelter funding, and concern for the city’s most-vulnerable populations, and would continue its work.

Article courtesy of CBC Winnipeg

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