Life In The Fast Lane For Local Indigenous Car Racing Couple

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Indigenous Car Racing Couple Brianna Julien, of Matachewan First Nation and Morgan Meaniss, of Beaverhouse First Nation, are racing on the Northern Ontario event circuit. They are pictured here in front of Meaniss’s 1977 Chevy Camaro Z28.
Indigenous Car Racing Couple Brianna Julien, of Matachewan First Nation and Morgan Meaniss, of Beaverhouse First Nation, are racing on the Northern Ontario event circuit. They are pictured here in front of Meaniss’s 1977 Chevy Camaro Z28.

by Xavier Kataquapit

An Indigenous car racing couple Morgan Meaniss and Brianna Julien are taking their love of vehicles on the road. Meaniss is a member of Beaverhouse First Nation and Julien is a member of Matachewan First Nation in Northern Ontario. The couple have been on the northern racing circuit for a few years as Meaniss entered his first car in 2016 and Julien in 2020. Recently they participated in the Kirkland drag racing event June 23, 24 and 25. They are looking forward to attending this year’s Kirkland Lake TNT drag racing event on August 18, 19 and 20 as well as the Bonfield Fall Classic Race event near North Bay in September.

“We like to race because we get to chase the adrenaline every time we go down the track. It is like meditation for us. In the race, you don’t worry about anything else for those few seconds. For us, nothing matters during race weekends except for how our cars are performing and we enjoy being together with everyone who we consider our racing family,” explained Julien.

The couple take part in a type of car competition known as drag racing which is also referred to as bracket racing. They regularly take part in racing events at the annual Kirkland Lake TNT drag races at the Kirkland Lake Airport. They also travel every year to events at the Bonfield Event Park drag races near North Bay and Circuit au Bosquet drag races near Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec.

“The best part about being an Indigenous racing couple is in showing our communities and First Nations a sport that not a lot of people are aware of. It’s exciting every time we see a familiar face in the crowd cheering us on. When you get to share your love for the sport with your best friend, there is no better feeling,” said Meaniss.

The young couple met during middle school in Kirkland Lake and the annual Wabun Tribal Council Youth Gathering and they have been racing together for years. Both of their First Nations are part of the Wabun Tribal Council.

Meaniss, who works full time as a mechanic, maintains and services both their cars including his 1977 Chevy Camaro Z28 and her 1985 Chevy Camaro Z28. The 1985 car which Meaniss purchased when he was only 13 years of age, was rebuilt by him for Julien when she decided to race.

They were both introduced to the world of automotive mechanics and car racing through Julien’s stepfather the late Chris Lambert. He worked as an entrepreneur shop owner in the Kirkland Lake area for many years. At one point Meaniss was mentored by Lambert when he was still in high school.

“Chris was a wonderful father to our family and he was an excellent mentor to Morgan as he passed on so much knowledge and his love of automobiles to both of us. He gave us this passion for cars that we both enjoy on the racing circuit today,” commented Julien.

Her car now includes a window decal in memory of her late stepfather.  Meaniss receives sponsorship from Kirkland Lake Towing and Julien’s car is sponsored by FXR Racing.

Meaniss’s grandfather, the legendary late Chief Roy Meaniss was a long time advocate and representative of their First Nation community of Beaverhouse FN. The First Nation struggled for over a century on their lands near Kirkland Lake as their people had First Nation heritage but no official First Nation status. They had been overlooked and ignored in the treaties that were created in this part of northern Ontario in the early 1900s. Chief Meaniss was instrumental in keeping his community represented and in working towards gaining official recognition for his people for many years. Although he was not able to see it, his tireless work and dedication to his community culminated with Beaverhouse FN gaining recognition from the government of Canada in April 2022 under Chief Wayne Wabie.

“I am so happy to know that my grandfather as Chief had done so much for our people and I know that he would be very proud of the path we are on with racing in our traditional territory today,” commented Morgan Meaniss.

To follow their racing career, just search for their names on Facebook to see their latest racing events and photos.

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Under The Northern Sky is the title of a popular Aboriginal news column written by First Nation writer, Xavier Kataquapit, who is originally from Attawapiskat Ontario on the James Bay coast. He has been writing the column since 1997 and it is is published regularly in newspapers across Canada. In addition to working as a First Nation columnist, his writing has been featured on various Canadian radio broadcast programs. Xavier writes about his experiences as a First Nation Cree person. He has provided much insight into the James Bay Cree in regards to his people’s culture and traditions. As a Cree writer, his stories tell of the people on the land in the area of Attawapiskat First Nation were he was born and raised.