My name is Mario Cueto and I have been a school teacher for 19 years. Throughout my career, I have been a passionate advocate for Indigenous Education which started at Strathcona Elementary school in the North End then to General Wolfe School in the West End and now at Gordon Bell High School in the West Broadway area. I have leadership experience as the chairperson of the Indigenous Education Committees in Strathcona and General Wolfe as well as a part of the planning team of the Winnipeg School Board’s Indigenous Academic Achievement Program.
I have been a Bear Clan member since 2016 and I have been continuously been patrolling ever since. As an active patroller and director, I get the sense of how the patrols are run and I update the board of governors on issues that we need to address. As Bear Clan Patrol Inc.’s mandate of harm reduction, I have helped extend that vision into the schools by getting students to build their sense of empathy and belonging through Bear Clan Patrol’s core values of unconditional generosity and non-judgemental approach in our shared communities. Last February I organized the first-ever Bear Clan Youth Mock Patrol to run out of a school and had the first official endorsement from the Winnipeg School Division. In November, during my school’s Remembrance Day assembly, I brought a Bear Clan Patrol member and Afghan veteran, Jonny Miekle to share his experiences in our part in honouring our veterans. Since the re-introduction of the Winnipeg School Division Celebration Pow Wow, I have ensured the involvement of Bear Clan Patrol in being peace ambassadors at these gatherings.
In September of last year, I organized our first-ever Orange Shirt Day Bear Clan Patrol. My vision of bringing educators and other people connected to schools from elementary to post-secondary institutions be part of honouring and remembering all those who fell victims, those who survived residential schools, and families who carried the burden of the generational trauma came to be. Over a hundred educators, administrators, Educational Assistances, and other school staff from across the city were involved in this massive event. It was the schools that created these pain which is that of residential schools and it would be the schools that need to be part of the healing and reconciliation that are needed.
Bear Clan Patrol has been a family endeavour for me as my partner and our eleven-year-old daughter have been active patrollers. At one time, my daughter was the youngest member of Bear Clan Patrol and to this day, she continues to patrol during Youth Mock Patrols in the North End and West Broadway. My daughter’s experience as a Bear Clan Youth Patrol leader has led her to create the Courage of the Bear Cub, an extracurricular activity where she, along with other students, helped celebrate and honour Indigenous practice and culture. Her group has helped raise money and put together with care packages for Bear Clan Patrol. She and I have even given presentations in schools in regards to the teachings that can come when Bear Clan Patrol becomes involved in schools. Being a director of Bear Clan Patrol and a teacher has allowed me to share my gifts and knowledge to extend the learning outside the school.