Chris Anderson stands on a K'ómoks First Nation beach looking into Bukwas, the western First Nations character he has embraced to inspire his mixed martial arts work, a few days before the World Welterweight Championship fight.
Over the course of two weeks photographer Jennifer Osborne followed Anderson's final preparations for the July 14, 2018 match at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam, B.C.
Here is his story.
Chris “Bukwas” Anderson is a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter from the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. He is a member of the Namgis First Nation, of Kwakwaka'wakw people, and he chose to embrace and represent his culture by using the "Bukwas" First Nations character, which roughly means the “wild man of the woods” in Kwak'wala.
This name is no stretch.
Anderson is one of Canada’s top-ranked middleweight and welterweight MMA fighters, outside the Ultimate Fighting Championship realm. He was named the most dominant fighter of the Battlefield Fight League, a mixed martial arts organization in British Columbia. Standing on the beach, he has experienced a 12-fight win streak with no actual loss so far in his career, beyond a tie-breaker loss.
Anderson isn't alone. His strength is in community, comradeship and loved ones. But his journey into this sport was not easy.
It came as an escape from heavy drinking, living on the streets and generally getting up to “no good” as a teenager. No matter whether his match is won or lost, Anderson has won the battle over addiction.
Community service is a large part of Anderson's career. He is dedicated to Indigenous youth and has used his winnings to help community recreational centres fund sports equipment. He hopes to share the meaning he has found in his journey as an athlete with Indigenous children who may also be searching for some kind of direction or outlet.
Anderson's journey of empowerment is one of support, especially from long-time partner Kailyn Regner.
Spiritual preparation is critical with an individual smudging before the match, outside the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam, B.C.
Win or lose, this is only a match. The real battle is already won.