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The Courage of the Bear Cub

Grosvenor School is undertaking a schoolwide humanitarian project this spring in support of Winnipeg’s homeless and vulnerable.

The campaign, called Courage of the Bear Cub, will see students collecting essential items like bottled water, food, toiletries, bandages and clothing and placing them in care packages for distribution to people living on the streets.

The care bags will be distributed by the Bear Clan Patrol, a local organization that offers humanitarian support and a friendly community presence in Winnipeg’s Inner City.

The project is the brainchild of Grade 3 student Malaya Cueto; her father, teacher Mario Cueto of General Wolfe School, is an active member of the patrol and serves on its board of directors. Malaya has been on youth patrols and ride along patrols with her father and other Bear Clan members and has encountered people in need.

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“We give care packages for those who are in need and bring people to shelters so they have a warm place to stay,” Malaya said. “It’s important because we’re helping others. When we’re out on patrol, people will honk their horn as they drive by and thank us.”

Malaya came up with the idea for the campaign after meeting a homeless person while on patrol with her father during a frigid winter cold snap. The man had been living in a cardboard box at the time and was not comfortable with going to a shelter.

“She came with me to bring him food one patrol, and told me ‘Daddy, I’ve got an idea, I want to raise money for people like John,’” Mr. Cueto said.

Malaya also wanted to raise money to support the Bear Clan Patrol’s efforts in the Inner City, North End, West Broadway and West End.

“It is a volunteer group, the members do not get paid,” she said, noting that the patrols do need equipment and supplies such as batteries, disposable protective gloves for picking up garbage, needles and other dangerous items off the streets, as well as gasoline for mobile crews.

Grosvenor’s student council will be helping to organize and collect the care packages and donations. Students will also be writing messages of support for Winnipeg’s homeless and adding them to the packages.

Prior to Spring Break, Grosvenor invited Malaya, Mr. Cueto and James Favel, Executive Director of the Bear Clan Patrol, to speak at a kickoff assembly for the campaign. Olympian Clara Hughes, St. John’s MLA Nahanni Fontaine and Point Douglas MLA Bernadette Smith also sent video messages for the event. 

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“We are a non-violent, non-judgmental community safety patrol,” Mr. Favel said. “Our mandate is to protect and empower the women, children, elderly and all of the vulnerable members in our community.”

Mr. Favel said the Bear Clan Patrol’s purpose was to build relationships.

“We’re trying to bring back that whole village vibe we once had, back in the day, when everybody knew their neighbor and cared about one another. That’s what we’re trying to re-instill in our community, and everyone can be a part of that.”  

In a similar spirit, Grosvenor students also plan to carry out smaller humanitarian and public service projects in their neighbourhood and Winnipeg in the coming months.

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