Indigenous

Boxer turned band councillor wants to help Elsipogtog youth

A professional boxer turned band councillor is injecting new blood in the fight to save youth on the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick.

Professional boxer Nathan Millier now fighting for a rec centre on New Brunswick First Nation

Nathan Millier (second from left) thinks recreation can help youth the way it helped him (Nathan Millier/Facebook)

A professional boxer turned band councillor is injecting new blood in the fight to save youth on the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick.

Before Nathan Millier was elected to council he had a record of 8-0-1 in the ring. Now Millier is dreaming of a new community recreation centre to help youth in the same way boxing helped focus his life — giving him discipline, integrity and pride. 

He feels young people vandalise and fall into vices because of boredom and problems at home. Millier said boxing helped when he needed an outlet.

"The boxing gym was there to help me out," said the 25 year old. "It's a cheap sport, I got to let out a lot of aggression."

Nathan Millier (left) is hoping to give youth in his community the same opportunity he had. (Nathan Millier/ Facebook)

Millier started boxing when he was four years old. He still remembers hitting the heavy bag in the "dungeon" — the basement of the old town hall in Elsipogtog. Millier said the hall was lost to a fire in 1996.

Another boxing gym opened up when he was nine or 10, but that didn't last either. The owner moved back to Boston.

"As soon as that was lost, there wasn't really a lot for anyone," Millier said.

"I was young and foolish. I had a lot of anger built up. A lot of negative energy that I had to let go and I did it in all the wrong ways. Now I'm choosing to better myself."

Millier said his life was spiraling out of control because of personal and financial battles. He hit bottom when he ran into trouble with the law. He was 17 years old.

At 18, he moved back to Fredericton and found boxing again.

"It gave me pride in myself as well as being First Nations. I was kind of losing it at that age it was more kind of lost soul. I was a lost soul when I started boxing."

Boxing gave him purpose and now Millier wants the young people in his community to have that same opportunity.

Rec centre could be 'big win' for community

Millier was just elected to council in March. He's hoping to look at the community's problems with a fresh set of eyes.

"I have the whole community cheering for me and rooting for me and believing in me. I see that fresh point of view. Quite the honor for me to see and represent it."

"I think he's a great role model for our youth… he's staying away from drugs, alcohol," said Quentin Sock, a band member of Elsipogtog,

Sock said Millier's plan for a boxing club and a recreational centre could be a safe space for the communities young people.

"Some of the youth might need it because they feel they're trapped at home, because they're abused or bullied which leads to drugs or alcohol," said Sock.

Millier sees a"big win" for Elsipogtog if it lands a recreation centre with a swimming pool, weights, and a track.

"If we had this, It would help the community in helping the youth with whatever they're dealing with at home, personal issues," said Millier.

Nathan Millier (top row, left) is the youngest member of the Elsipogtog chief and council. (Nathan Millier (top left)/ Facebook)

Both Sock and Millier feel physical activity could help channel people's negative energy into something positive. 

"If we could get them at a young age, we can help the kids out right now and our community could prosper," said Millier.

Although Sock admits there is already a weight lifting gym and a hockey rink on reserve, he feels a new facility could be an improvement. Sock thinks young people get intimidated in regards to lifting at the old centre, and the rink is always busy with its schedule.

Millier believes his dream is a few years off, and he sees it like a boxing match.

"We start off with these small jabs then we get big hits, like the grocery store, the pharmacy being built. That's a big right hand right there."

Although he has his new job as an elected official, Millier still trains twice a day, six days a week. And he's hoping to schedule his next fight in July, all while working with community members to better Elsipogtog.

"We need people looking forward and want the change for the community. It's going to take the whole community coming together to make that change."

About the Author

Oscar Baker III is from Elsipogtog First Nation, and St. Augustine, Fla. He is a freelancer based in Wabanaki.