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Maskwacis boxer Taylor Bull shares his healing journey
Ponoka News - 4/21/2023
By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
Taylor Bull, whose Cree name is (Neyewats Musto), is an ex-boxer on a mission to give back to his Maskwacis community and encourage youth to stay away from gang life and violence.
He aims to right any wrongs that he did in the community by guiding youth toward positive lifestyles and away from gang life and crime. He says that participating in Indigenous ceremonies and traditions helps him understand his identity as newiyawak.
"I firmly believe in connecting our young men with cultural experiences because of that belief," said Bull.
He also gives back by volunteering with local initiatives like Wetaskiwin's Hate to Hope, which empowers local people to give back to their communities.
"I am always willing to help a good cause," he added. "I have been doing workshops and hoping to do more public speaking engagements."
Also, Bull is on his way to opening a boxing gym at Samson Mall.
Bull grew up with a supportive family and played sports as a youth. But, he said, as a teenager, he began to rebel, leading him to explore gangs, violence, and drugs gradually. In high school, he was pulled into the gang lifestyle.
Pro-boxing saved him from a life of crime and violence. As a result, he was able to change his life around and repair his reputation in his community.
"I was offered to compete in Lethbridge on a 'Rage in the Ring' show in 2008," he explained.
Early in his career, he began working with Tye Fields as a sparring partner and his coach Kenny Lakusta. After gaining some local exposure, Bull was offered an opportunity to fight the Canadian Cruiserweight Champion, Ryan Henney, at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton.
"My confidence comes from my losses, I was once knocked out in front of 4,000 people at the Shaw Conference Centre, and it never even phased me," he noted.
"I woke up while the nurse was stitching me back in the dressing room, and I jokingly asked her if my modeling career was still intact.
"Although I lost the fight, it drove me to continue and attain my legacy as a champion," said Bull. "Everything I have mentioned above has been an integral part of my healing journey."
At some point in his life, Bull decided that he "could not continue doing bad things and expect good things to happen" to him. His story is about redemption and hope and he is using his experiences to help others lead a sober and healthy life.
Currently, Bull excels as an outreach worker with Samson Cree Nation (SCN), specifically for those dealing with substance abuse and homelessness. He is enrolled in Sundance College for an online Addictions and Family Counselling diploma.
Bull is thankful to those who helped in his healing journey, such as SCN, for sponsoring his training as a Heal Your Life Workshop facilitator and certified life coach.
He added that certifications have provided him with ways of helping heal the four Cree Nations on the front line, and "I will be forever grateful."
"The Kwesi Pimatisi Men's detox camps have been a big part of my role with Samson Community Wellness," said Bull. "The camp's founders, Florence and Frank Large, have been crucial in leading the team and preparing us to handle things as they gradually transition from being lead."
Bull credits his strength to his parents' foundation: "In the end, my parents were my saving grace."
Bull explained, "My father raised me as a Chief's son; my father's lineage goes back to the first chief of the Kisipatnahk nation, and the words of my grandfather echo in my head.
"My mother always taught me to consider other people's feelings, or as the saying goes, put yourself in their shoes," said Bull.
He concludes the interview by saying, "This foundation is what I stood on when things began to fall apart, so in the end, I thank my parents, for they raised me right, and I wouldn't be where I am today had they not.
"Keep in mind that I am far from perfect," he added. "I have made many mistakes. But in my Cree culture, we say 'akamamohk,' which means keep going, and I am very grateful that I did."