Micheal Mahkwa (Bear) Auksi is a Toronto-born, Anishinaabe-Estonian first-year Ph.D. student in Kinesiology Sciences at McGill University. Focusing on Indigenous sport and physical culture, his anticipated dissertation on the hockey history of Lac Seul First Nation will explore the game’s importance in the people’s lives and celebrate over 70 years of hockey excellence. Mike’s playing career took him to the U SPORTS, Allan Cup, and IIHF hockey circles. He is forever thankful to have represented the Lac Seul Eagles in his early twenties, where his life turned on a dime. The Group H Qualifications for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics with Team Estonia represented his perfect exit from competitive sport. Mike feels strongly that hockey—when played right—has the potential to change lives and nations.
What is the role of sport/physical activity in your life?
I love hockey so much and I still play twice a week, maybe daily if you count in one’s mind. I also enjoy squash, tennis, beach volleyball, lifting weights, as well as crawling up and rolling down the hills of Montréal. Sitting here in my new work/study space at McGill University, I feel great about my core workout this morning. The workout I texted myself minutes before getting started consisted of stability ball roll-outs, plank twists, tucks, pikes, and even supinated, single leg hamstring curls. As I was going about my routine, it dawned on me how special it was to know my own body so well. I know the exact volume of sets and reps to prescribe myself, as well as how much to rest between sets, depending on the exercise’s intensity. My perfect dream is to live to see the day when every person knows exactly how to move, train, and play in a manner that fills them with joy.
How do you define wellness?
I have spent my entire life chasing my perfect life balance. Yet it always seemed as though it was impossible to achieve. I might overindulge in processed foods and Dr. Pepper (LOL) or I might stay up way too late. For whatever reason, I seem to have turned the page in my life and I’m so pumped! I’ve managed to get to bed by 11 pm or earlier and I leap out of bed with ease at 7 am. I generally begin my day at the gym, then spend a handful of hours reading or writing about Indigenous hockey. I’ll end my day by strutting home or to the grocery store, all while visualizing the next series of power salads I will create. Lastly, I’ll relax and tune in to a hockey game or put on a movie (Marvel, DC, or Sci-Fi) I’ve already watched several times.
What are the things you do each day that make you a ‘Wellness Warrior’?
My personal approach to living the good life simply involves sharing all the positive energy I possibly can wherever I go (possibly even on social media). To be perfectly honest, it can be exhausting, but it all comes back! Above all, it has to be sincere and without necessarily expecting come back—right away. I am active every single day. I do my best to get my 8 hours of sleep and whip up epic salads with care and love. Moving to a new city has me missing community but penning hand-written letters to family and friends is helping. Thankfully, there is a conference at Concordia University in two weeks where my role will be supporting our young people in attendance. I never lost faith in the process of my journey and I always look for subtle, almost cosmic signs that I am on my good path. Ever since re-connecting with my rich cultures and people from all nations, I have been able to sustain a healthy life balance.
Who or what is your inspiration?
Without a doubt, the Indigenous community has and always will be my greatest source of strength, resilience, purpose, and passion. After I finished my graduate dissertation on Indigenous youth development, I was fortunate enough to facilitate several physical activity workshops in the community. The money earned would represent my one-way plane ticket to the city of Tallinn where I would live and play for two years. My playing career ended in storybook fashion as I had the great honour of representing my mother’s country of Estonia at the 2015 IIHF World Hockey Championships and Olympic Qualifications for the 2018 Games.