Bear Clan Patrol finds Winnipeg friendship centre trashed

The door was pried open and the interior completely trashed.

The leader of the Bear Clan Patrol in Winnipeg says one of his teams found a rear door of one of Canada’s first friendship centres pried open and the interior vandalized. 

There was enough snow in the doorway that we had trouble pushing our way in,” said James Favel Saturday. “When we got in there, the whole place was trashed.

“We called the police but it’s not a priority for them tonight,” Favel added over the phone.

The Winnipeg Indian and Metis Friendship Centre (IMFC) was founded in 1968. It was the subject of controversy in 2018.

The board of directors was outvoted in the springtime by a new group whose members claimed to be part of the American Indian Movement (AIM), a claim that was refuted by U.S. AIM leader Clyde Bellecourt.

The IMFC’s new board soon lost its provincial gaming licence, effectively shutting down its twice-a-week bingo.

It was all downhill after that. The national and provincial friendship centre associations withdrew the Winnipeg centre’s membership and the new group soon defaulted on the mortgage.

The doors of the Winnipeg IMFC had been locked and shuttered since the summer of 2018, soon after the group held a sun dance beside the building in the heart of the Lord Selkirk neighbourhood in north end Winnipeg.

“There were some historical artifacts in there,” Favel noted.

“There were a couple of sacred pipes, eagle feathers, portraits. All the walls in the bathrooms were smashed in and the copper wiring removed. They took all the TVs but left the remotes.”

Favel said Bear Clan members removed some of the portraits from the centre’s wall of fame for safe keeping. The portraits were painted by artist Noel Wuttunee who died in Winnipeg in 2011.

A lot of the walls and doors were covered by a film of ice and the smell of mold was so bad we couldn’t stay in there very long,” Favel said. 

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8 thoughts on “Bear Clan Patrol finds Winnipeg friendship centre trashed

  1. Thanks to the Bear Clan for their work and retrieving the historical arts portraits. These pieces maybe the only tangible pieces left along with some corporate memory and many other community memories of good times at the different Friendship Centre locations over the years. I, for one sure enjoyed the times I had there in the mid 70’s and 80’s. I sure hope the community can rebuild this important institution.

  2. Thanks to the Bear Clan for their work and retrieving the historical arts portraits. These pieces maybe the only tangible pieces left along with some corporate memory and many other community memories of good times at the different Friendship Centre locations over the years. I, for one sure enjoyed the times I had there in the mid 70’s and 80’s. I sure hope the community can rebuild this important institution.

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