Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol has partnered with police to launch a new Facebook page and website that will serve as a central information hub for missing persons cases, they announced Thursday morning at their Selkirk Avenue office.
The non-profit organization has a working relationship with police and hopes the new page will strengthen their work as a liaison between community members and the police.
Since Feb. 1, 96 missing persons cases have been posted on the Bear Clan website. The group played a role in helping locate 45 of the missing people.
Angela Klassen, the West Broadway co-ordinator for the Bear Clan, will lead the new effort.
Klassen plays a role in the organization’s missing persons efforts by gathering information from the community and, at times, being a shoulder to cry on.
“For a lot of the families, their spirit is broken.… Sometimes mom or dad, or whoever it may be, might have a little breakdown, and I always tell them they’re welcome to call me, and I’ll talk them through it,” said Klassen, who often speaks to the loved ones of missing people several times a day.
Bear Clan’s main Facebook page shares information about where the patrol teams can be found in the community, donation drives and, until now, missing persons cases.
The new page and website dedicated to missing persons will give the public and loved ones another option for communicating with the clan’s volunteers.
It will include a list of questions police might ask when a report is filed.
“On a daily basis, I get phone calls [from families]. Often times a missing persons report hasn’t been filed, and I will walk them through the process,” Klassen said.
After a police report is filed, the family can choose to primarily communicate with Bear Clan members, who will relay the information to police.
“Our working relationship [with Bear Clan] is so important to help get information to community members,” Winnipeg police Sgt. Andrea Scott said on Thursday.
She works with the service’s missing persons and counter-exploitation unit, which communicates with the Bear Clan several times a day.
Around 7,000 missing persons cases are filed with the police every year, she said. Most people are found or return home.
On average, five cases per year remain open and turn into long-term investigations, Scott said.