Mama Bear clan in Winnipeg says life on the street has left people feeling ‘anxious’ during pandemic

“Not only the worry about the virus but also because of all the changes and how everything is so different.”

Life on the streets of Winnipeg has left people feeling lost without the services that usually help them cope with day to day issues including anxiety and drug addiction.

Mitch Bourbonniere is a member of Mama Bear Clan – an organization that patrols the streets of North Point Douglas in Winnipeg and supplies food, medicine and clothing for those living on the street.

He says there has been a palpable difference on the streets recently.

“Not only the worry about the virus but also because of all the changes and how everything is so different,” he said. “You know stores are closed and resources and drop-ins and services are shuttered and I think it’s left the people feeling kind of anxious and abandoned and kind of one their own out here.”

There are no numbers yet to show just how COVID-19 has impacted crime or drugs in Winnipeg.

But police expect that data to be available in a couple of months.

In the meantime, police say the rise in violence in the city is cyclical – and changes with the seasons.

While COVID-19 doesn’t appear to be impacting rates of violence, the virus still has people on their toes.

Const. Jay Murray told APTN News that the WPS believes the COVID-19 pandemic has had little impact on reports of violent crime.

“It certainly has resulted in less calls for us. We feel that more people, instead of calling police, are choosing to report more things online, so there’s less calls for our officers to attend to,” Murray said.

“But in terms of the severity of crime it’s anecdotally just talking to other officers on the street, it really has felt somewhat normal, very similar to what we’ve seen before.”

Darrell is a proud member of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. He is a graduate of the television program from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton. He is returning to APTN after having completed an internship with us in 2018 and a brief stop as a reporter in B.C. in 2019.