Mama Bear Clan trying to keep people safe on the streets of North Point Douglas
They call themselves Mama Bear Clan.
It’s a group of volunteer women who patrol the streets of North Point Douglas with food, medicine and clothing for those living on the street.
“We come out Thursdays and Sundays,” said Candace Nykiforuk.
Nine months ago, women who regularly meet at the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, including Nykiforuk, decided they wanted to ensure people were safe on the streets.
They formed Mama Bear Clan, which is a Patrol led by women and supported by men.
“We got big hearts, were out there to be kind and to love people,” said Nykiforuk. “We want them to feel safe and I think they get that from us.”
On a cold and rainy October night, their patrol started with handing out jackets to the homeless for the cold winter months ahead.
“I hope it fits and keeps me warms,” said one woman who was grateful to receive a winter coat from Mama Bear Clan.
Derek Berthelette is one of the men in the group.
Having gone through a tough upbringing, he explained how he feels a connection to the people he helps on each Mama Bear Clan patrol.
“I wasn’t far away from a situation similar to this,” Berthelette recalled, of his past. “I lost my step-father at a young age and I dropped out of school.”
Often times Berthelette gives more than just food to people he meets on patrol, and instead he finds a way to use his story to help people going through something similar.
On this patrol he finds himself talking to a man sitting next to his sister in the pouring rain.
“I lost my mom and after a while I started drinking and doing drugs,” the man said, to which Berthelette responded, ”Brother, your story sounds a lot like mine.”
Mama Bear Clan would make sure the two had a safe place to stay indoors.
“I gave them some money, I don’t have much but I do what I can,” Berthelette added.
At the end of another night on patrol Mama Bear Clan meets at the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, where they started.
They are happy about the care they gave, but wishing more could be done.
In two short hours, they gave out six jackets, seven bus tickets, hundreds of food items and dozens of toques.
They have also picked up six used needles off the street to be taken to a needle disposal facility.
“If we weren’t doing this, who is going to do it,” said Nykiforuk.