By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Manon Timshel believes that no matter what anyone’s personal or financial situation is, every person has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and every person has the right to be clean and to be safe.

“Everyone deserves safety and cleanliness, and in a society like this, there is no reason that all people can’t be afforded that respect and that dignity,” Timshel, the coordinator of the Portage la Prairie Bear Clan said.

“It’s what we are here for, to provide that compassionate and non-judgmental support.”

The Portage Bear Clan is an Indigenous-led initiative running in the city of about 13,000 residents that sits 75 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

Timshel said they offer a number of supports for people who are dealing with issues like homelessness, addictions, abusive situations, and financial challenges, while also doing regular patrols of the city’s streets and offering “non-violent crisis intervention.”

“It is really important for us as an organization to take feedback from the people that need us most,” Timshel said. “We want to hear from them and find out what they need, rather than tell them what they need.”

Recently the Bear Clan added another service in Portage, as they have now opened up a section of their current office building, which is housed in a Manitoba Housing complex in the city, to offer residents laundry services, and the opportunity to use a shower and have access to a bathroom and toiletries.

This item is reprinted with permission from the Winnipeg, MB, Winnipeg Sun. For the complete article, click HERE

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