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Dwayne Ward is originally from Metepenagiag (Red Bank) and has been living in Listuguj for the past 18 years. He has held many job titles throughout his life: MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter, motivational speaker, addictions counselor, clothing line entrepreneur, and more, but the one thing that always remained consistent was his love for combat sports and an active lifestyle.

Back in 2012, Ward opened his MMA training club, “The Vault” in Campbellton on Roseberry St. where the old National Bank was located.  “We called it ‘The Vault’ because it was in an old bank,” laughed Ward. During the COVID-19 pandemic, with encouragement from his wife, Ward felt it was the right time to move the club to Listuguj. The Vault is located at his home on 26 Mi’gmaq Drive. It is in a separate building adjacent to Ward’s home and is fully equipped with mats, nine punching bag stations, and other specialized training equipment and gear.

Ward has competed in and won numerous fights in MMA and boxing over the years. His last fight was in 2015 when he decided that he felt more inspired to teach and train others when it comes to the sport. Ward brings his expertise and intensity when it comes to training, but also offers his compassion and encouragement to those who attend his classes. There are a variety of training classes available at The Vault, such as boxing/kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There are co-ed classes, newly introduced ladies’ classes, and even classes for kids. The kids’ age groups run from ages 6-9, and ages 10-15. The size of a class varies and is usually between 8-16 people per class, with a limit for the kids’ classes. There are a few membership options to choose from, such as monthly memberships or day passes.  Ward specified that these training classes are not just for fighters, but for people who would like to come train and just get a good sweat on. He believes this type of fitness can be seen as an art form and is all about creating a safe and welcoming place for people to come in and feel good about themselves. People from all over the province come to train at the club, and it is also home to several regular Gesgepegiag club members.  It should also be noted that when the club was in Campbellton, there were roughly 20-25 regular members, and in Listuguj, The Vault now has 80-100 members. The club has really thrived and succeeded here in Mi’gma’qi territory.

Ward has been very vocal about his past drug and alcohol use and can often be found speaking at public events on his sobriety. He has been completely sober for 23 years and has used this experience and drive when it comes to being an addictions counselor and when it comes to training others. Ward left his job as an addictions counselor last year to solely focus on his club and clothing brand. Ward said, “I can listen to people’s problems, and I can parlay that into either addiction or taking it out on problems, It’s so important for mental health.”

Alongside the club, he also owns a very successful clothing line that consists of very bold, cultural pieces that really represent Ward’s passion.  “My clothing line was to promote Native Pride and fitness. Two things I’m really proud of,” said Ward.  His clothing can be found at various events and Pow Wows and people have been spotted representing The Vault clothing in different parts of the world.

Ward plans on continuing his classes at The Vault, and says eventually he’d like to expand his club, and possibly offer Elder’s training classes in the future. He says he feels the outpouring of love in the community and is so grateful that he’s able to help progress combat sport in Listuguj. “I’m very fortunate to be able to make a living off something that I love to do, and that’s my passion,” said Ward.

If you are interested in more information, or attending classes at The Vault, you can find Dwayne Everett Ward on Facebook and send him a message. He will be able to assist you and answer any questions you may have about any available classes.

By Ann Marie Jacques

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