Storage space in North Edmonton opens up to a Monster Pro Wrestling training facility, complete with a wrestling ring.
On a hot summer’s day, 36-year-old wrestler Sage Morin, The Matriarch, wrestles with her opponent while he manages to break out of the lock.
Wrestling has generally been a male-dominated sport, which is why The Matriarch often finds themselves facing off against men.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman,” says Maureen. “If you need to learn a lesson, it’s Mommy who does.”
During the warm-up period, Maureen’s passion for wrestling was clearly visible.
She flips and rolls with her male mates, at one point performing perfectly on her hands – toes pointing to the ceiling – and rolling forward to her feet.
If you need to learn a lesson, mom is the one to do it.– Sage Morin
“My goal is to keep training as hard as I can, to be the best I can, and to take my game to another level,” Maureen said in an interview.
Maureen started her wrestling career earlier this year, in April, and started competing just a month later.
During Monster Pro Wrestling tours to smaller communities across Alberta and British Columbia, she quickly became a fan favorite.
“It’s something I really got into and really enjoyed,” she said.
Maureen was introduced to Monster Pro after her two-year-old son, fair geo She was killed by an SUV in the patio of a South Edmonton restaurant in 2013.
The Edmonton-based organization was the first of many to organize a community event for Maureen and her family.
At that event, Monster Pro gave a belt with Geo’s name on it, and when she picked it up, the audience chanted his name.
“Honor always goes to Jiu, first and foremost, and strength always stems from that,” she said.
Watch The Matriarch in action:
Maureen’s coach says she was born to wrestle.
“You just got a bigger than life figure,” said Sean Dunster, aka Massive.
“It’s as if she came and wrapped her arms around the entire Monster Pro wrestling crew.”
Dunster reached out to Morin in the hope of involving her in some matches as an umpire or referee.
“It’s like, I want to wrestle,” he said. “She has been everything, right from the start.”
Maureen threw herself into the sport, finding family and support in the organization.
She helps her teammates with their makeup and outfits—Dunster said she brings a different side to wrestling.
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Authentic representation, not exploitative
Maureen of Saddle Lake Cree Nation in central Alberta, part of Treaty 6.
When she first joined wrestling, she was inspired to create a character that resonated deeply with her and reflected her native culture.
“I wanted to be a strong woman, a strong leader,” she said. “The best leaders we have in our culture are mothers.”
She has been careful with how her culture is represented.
“You will never catch me in my headdress, you will never catch me bringing my sacred ceremonial items or my feathers or anything like that,” said Maureen.
She wanted her acting to be real and not exploitative.
“I did it by bringing out my legendary dancers and bringing in Aboriginal performers, but also bringing in my own Aboriginal flavor,” she said.
Maureen said it was her dream to have a full crew of original wrestlers behind her, and to one day wear the Women’s Champion belt with pride.
Maureen said dealing with the loss of her son nearly destroyed her.
And after nearly a decade, the pain hasn’t gotten any easier.
So it felt like a full circle moment for Maureen when she entered the ring as a wrestler.
Wrestling helped her recover and start life again.
She said, “Throughout everything I’ve been through in my life, one thing I’m really grateful for is wrestling.”