Damon Badger Heit: On Growing Up With FNUniv

Damon Badger Heit was already a part of the First Nations University of Canada before becoming a student in 1998.

His mother used to teach at the university when he was growing up, and as a kid he spent a lot of time at FNUniv. Damon never struggled with which university to attend, his decision was made long before he enrolled.

“I don’t know if I would have gone [to another university] to be honest,” says Damon. “I grew up with some familiarity with FNUniv, so for me it was a comfort thing. I felt that it was a place I could go where I could have a place that reflected my identity and not only that but helped me develop it.”

After he enrolled, Damon moved around for the first few years changing majors. He eventually settled on a major in English and then discovered that all his shuffling around meant he also already had a minor in art.

Even though he didn’t intend on completely a double major, Damon decided to complete both and received two degrees in English and Indian art.

During his days at FNUniv, Damon never had the chance to attend classes in the breathtaking new building the university calls home today. But he remembers quite a build up to the opening of the new facility.

“That year we graduated felt kind of special, it felt like the college was graduating too, into the new institution, and with the new building and all those types of things,” says Damon. “We didn’t have a centralized place, we had the trailers and there were offices in the trailers outside of the university. They weren’t in the buildings, so it was sort of this motley crue of old educators.”

After graduating at the age of 23, Damon became an Outreach Consultant with Sask Culture, a provincial funding agency. Working with them for nearly a decade now, Damon loves helping communities support their culture through arts and language programming, as well as culture camps.

“It’s been 13 or 14 years since I graduated and the life I have now is a good life,” says Damon. “I have a family I’m taking care of, I have a career, I have this good quality of life and it’s because of that institute. I would not have been able to be as happy in a career and the direction that I’m working in, unless it was for an institution like that to give me a background to work in.”

by Raven Sage Brass