Grad Profile: Darien Davis

    • Prince George
  • June 19, 2024
As we celebrate the graduating class of 2024, we're shining a spotlight on exceptional stories of success. Darien Davis is this year's recipient of the Mary John Award of Excellence. This award is presented to an Indigenous CNC student who exemplifies Mary’s community service and dedication to language and cultural revitalization.

You finished your University Transfer Program at CNC, and now you’re off to Vancouver to continue your studies. Tell us more about your plans! 

Yes, I’m leaving my hometown Prince George behind for the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver. I wanted to build up transfer credits to pursue a Bachelor of Arts. Most of my classes at CNC were related to social sciences as I’m looking to move into political sciences.

Years ago, I joined the Fridays for Future initiative in Prince George to challenge the lack of action on the climate crisis and advocate for progression in environmental-related causes. While protests are valuable, I wanted to see which changes I could systematically make myself.  

Ever since, I’ve been eager to learn about intersectional topics like colonialism, queer, and Indigenous issues. My time at CNC, and especially through the Student Union, exposed me to important needs from post-secondary students, both here and abroad. 

Thinking back on your time at CNC, what was a moment that really stood out for you?

Without a doubt the Student Union’s first-ever karaoke night. I was so shy in my first semester at CNC. During that night, I really forced myself to be more uncomfortable. To my friends’ and my own surprise, I decided to get on stage and sing “Somebody to Love” by Queen. Not only is it a pretty hard song, but it’s also very long. Since then, I’ve found that I’m a lot more daring and braver in public settings and situations. I also love that I now have more courage to surprise people with things they wouldn’t expect from me. 

You’ve been involved with CNC’s Aboriginal Resource Centre (ARC) and the Student’s Union since your first week at CNC. How did those communities support you during your study? 

You can probably find me every day at the ARC. My family has ties with Takla First Nation and we’re very community based and family oriented in the Indigenous culture. This space feels like home. It’s shared with people who look like your family and understand your culture, even if they’re from a different community. 

My initial plan coming to CNC was to focus on school only. Go to class and go home. But I soon started to get involved with the Pride Club and other Student Union-related clubs. Eventually, I became a more familiar face and started to become quite a regular at the different events and Boards. Who knew you could do so much more during your time at college! 

And you also supported the Future Student Services team as a Student Ambassador and spearheaded the Indigenous Collective.

True! Both the ARC and the Student Union gave me many opportunities to network. Being a Student Ambassador is so much fun. You get to give campus tours and learn about student needs. And in my case, I got to talk with a lot of Indigenous students about their dreams and worries of going to college. Being autistic, it can be hard for me to navigate social situations so I’m happy I got to get all these experiences to work on talking and connecting with people. 

I headed the Indigenous Collective as Chief/President —a club to empower Indigenous students on campus. Whereas the ARC is providing cultural resources and a safe space to gather and connect, the Collective’s goal is to collect student experiences and share suggestions with CNC leadership in addressing issues or barriers that Indigenous Peoples face related to education. I’m happy we’ve built this community for fellow students.

At convocation you were recognized with the Mary John Award of Excellence for your contributions to the larger college community. What does this mean to you?

It means so much to me. If I’m really honest, it surprised me that people value me so much that they decided to nominate me for this award. Growing up and being Indigenous, queer and neurodiverse, I struggled a lot with my mental health and the obstacles I’ve faced due to discrimination. And I know many Indigenous and queer youth feel the same way. 

I hope that it inspires people like me. I wish they feel encouraged that they can make it out there in the world and do great things, despite the difficulties in life they might be experiencing right now. 


Lheidli T'enneh First Nation Chief Dolleen Logan congratulates Darien Davis with his Mary John Award of Excellence

What would you say to anyone who is considering going (back) to school?

Just do it. I want youth to know that I know and see their struggles and worries. I’ve been there too. I want them to know that education is so important and that they can make it through. Even if it’s hard to believe, I promise that they’ll succeed in the world. 

And to the people who are motivated to go back to school, I know it can be hard to come back and remember how to learn and study. Don’t be afraid to jump on this opportunity. You will thank yourself later.

But my most important advice to any new or returning student is to find community and connection. Find people to surround yourself with. To learn, laugh and share with. Then things will become a lot easier and joyful.

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