Dwayne Ward has had many challenges in his life but he has worked hard to overcome them and is now a proud business owner, family man and motivator.
Dwayne grew up in a big family in Metepenagiag. He had a lot of insecurities and didn’t feel like he fit in. At the age of 15 he got drunk for the first time in his life.
“I grew up with an alcoholic father and I knew the damage that it caused,” said Dwayne. “I grew up not wanting to drink. When I took a drink it was the grossest tasting stuff but I got a warm feeling. I felt like I belonged and that I fit in with my friends. I drank for 10 years. I got in a lot of trouble. I got arrested. I assaulted a police officer. I got many scars and broken teeth. I woke up not knowing what I had done the night before. I started doing drugs. I didn’t see that I was being a burden to my family. When I was 25 years old I hit rock bottom. I’ve been clean and sober for 15 years. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Dwayne conquered his addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol at the age of 25. Since then he has focused his energy on living his best life.
“I’ve been to all kinds of ceremonies, conferences and workshops and they have helped me become who I am,” said Dwayne. “I had a lot of challenges and setbacks but I never gave up. I’ve met my dream wife. I have 3 children that I love with all of my heart. In my sobriety, these are my blessings that I have received.”
Dwayne likes to push his limits and prove he can do anything he sets his mind to. His focus and drive helped him to change his life.
“Training and living a healthy lifestyle never let me down,” said Dwayne. “I used to look up to my older brother and his friends who worked out regularly. Now I train so that I can be better than I was yesterday. I don’t try to be better than other people, just be better than I was yesterday.”
Dwayne’s passion for health and fitness and his desire to help others led him to open a not-for-profit training gym called “The Vault”. Dwayne has helped to instill First Nation pride in his clients and to help them to believe in their dreams.
“I’m a motivator and trainer,” said Dwayne. “I love the lifestyle. Not everyone can live it. Not everyone can handle the leg kicks and fighting. You have to leave your ego at the door. Being defeated is a lesson. I had to wave the white flag to sober up. It’s how you win in the long run. I’m proud to be Mi’kmaq. I’ve spoken to schools and spoken to jails, I try not to judge as I was that guy that everyone was making fun of. I know what it’s like to be ostracized. I got to do some great things through my sobriety. At age 38, I fought a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight and I beat a guy who was a lot bigger than me. People told me not to do it. People who tell you not to do things are those who don’t take risks and are afraid to do things themselves.”
When Dwayne started his business, he started out small but hard work and determination helped him to succeed.
“We started our business with no grants,” said Dwayne. “We wanted to bring MMA to Campbellton and if you want something bad enough in your life you are willing to go for it. I started with a $400 order of t-shirts and the next day I was sold out. I wasn’t just selling to people who were into fitness; people were buying who wanted to support me. I sold out of the trunk of my vehicle. I would go res to res and I’d sit in a parking lot for 3-4 hours and sell my shirts. I travelled everywhere. I had a knack for this, being a people person. My experience helped me make my next step up into business. I sold at powwows, gyms, reserves all over. I’ve received a lot of support. I came from humble beginnings, nothing was given to me. I had to work for everything I got. PHD – passion, heart and drive. You have to have passion in your heart to reach for your goals, you have to have the heart to do it, and you have to have the drive.”
Passion, Heart and Drive is Dwayne’s motto and what his gym is built on. Dwayne also believes that the strength of his culture and ceremony have helped him to be successful and touch the lives of many.
“Our ancestors weren’t allowed to show their native pride," said Dwayne. "As a Mi’kmaq in 2015 I can show my native pride. I’m allowed to do it. That’s why my prints are big on my shirts. My clothing humbles me and it shows our pride. Appearance is very important in business. I wear my clothes every day. My uniform is my clothing because I stand behind it.”
Dwayne wants to continue to grow his business and to help people. He has plans to build an online website and he uses social media and other free ways to advertise his business. He knows that one of the keys to his success has been hard work.
“You’ll get out of your business what you put into it,” said Dwayne. “It’s the same with my training and sobriety and life. Success doesn’t come to you. You have to go out and shake hands and meet people and work. I never wanted to give up on my dreams and now I get to give back. Motivational speaking is a way to give back. If I help one person than I have done my job. I speak from my heart. We have to use our gifts to move forward. Today in my sobriety, I use the gift to speak from my heart. I’m just a guy that likes to work hard. Success is about being happy and I have that with my wife and my kids and my lifestyle.”
Dwayne’s message from his heart is clear.
“What legacy do you want to leave behind? What do you want to do in life?”