Shaun Young
We found faculty members who wear their hearts on their skin and asked them the (sometimes dreaded) question: “What does your tattoo mean?” (Photos by Alexa Battler)
Friday, May 17 - 2019
Alexa Battler

Shaun Young, instructor in the Department of Political Science

Shaun Young's tattoo of a phoenix.
Shaun Young's phoenix tattoo is a symbol of change. 

Shaun Young has two tattoos — a memento of where he has been and a symbol of where he is going. 

On his upper left arm is a colourful phoenix in mid-flight, under a banner emblazoned with the number 2016 — the year Young’s divorce was finalized. He had the tattoo done, unsurprisingly, in 2016. 

But the story behind the tattoo isn’t a sad one, Young says, rather it is one of rising anew in the wake of change. 

“I got it as a symbol of my rebirth following my divorce, which was amicable, genuinely, so it’s not a negative story,” he says. “It’s the phoenix emerging from the ashes.” 

On his forearm is a tattoo Young says is from “a lifetime ago” — more than 20 years, he estimates. The text reads “Airborne Gunners,” arched above a set of wings and a parachute.

Immediately after graduating high school, Young joined the Canadian military, where he served for six years and became a member of the now-defunct Canadian Airborne Regiment. 

The text on his tattoo is fairly straightforward: he was a paratrooper, hence the “Airborne,” in an artillery unit, hence the “Gunner.”

Young had the tattoo done while he was stationed in Petawawa, Ont. He says it was done by a married couple who travelled to military bases in a Winnebago, where they would tattoo soldiers.

“That set-up was a bit sketchier,” he laughs. “But it was a Saturday.”

Shaun Young's forearm tattoo.
Shaun Young's forearm tattoo includes an image of a parachute and two wings. 

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