A herd of police-escorted junior high cyclists took to Winnipeg streets Wednesday afternoon to spread kindness, share food and learn more about Indigenous culture.
A partnership between the Winnipeg Police Service, the citizen Bear Clan Patrol group and four inner-city schools — Gordon Bell, Hugh John Macdonald, Isaac Brock and General Wolfe — came up with the bike event to celebrate Conscious Kindness Day, a United Way campaign aimed at spreading acts of kindness in the community.
“It’s an amazing thing, and with the police … it’s fun going past red lights,” said Kur Mayoum, a student at Hugh John Macdonald.
“The Bear Clan, they help people — it’s good to see with my eyes what they do for the community.… It’s nice to help people that are in need and change their lives.”
The students started their ride, which included a stop at the Manitoba Legislature for a seminar on Métis culture, at General Wolfe School.
They made their way to The Forks for lunch, where they handed out lunches to others and got to see the opening ceremony of the Manito Ahbee Festival, which celebrates Indigenous arts, culture and music.
“I’m learning about Aboriginal culture and how we should take down our walls and be one with one another,” said Estifanos Gabremariam, another Hugh John MacDonald student.
Angel McKay Harper, 12, watched the dancers step into the Oodena Circle. It was important to see, she said, “so people can know us. What our culture is like. How we dance and how we sing.”
“Residential schools created the generational trauma but it’s also the schools that need to step up and be part of that healing,” aid General Wolfe teacher Mario Cueto, who is also part of the Bear Clan.
“It’s the small steps that we do.”
He added the Conscious Kindness Day event continues to grow each year — and it has an important message, said General Wolfe student Arieana Williams.
“Be kind to people and try to help out if you can,” she said.
“Not everyone has the same life. You’ve gotta give back to the community. Gotta help out sometimes.”