Nice Guys Turn Pro — An Interview With Dustin Henry

Photo by Colin Sussingham

Sometimes it feels like there is little incentive to be kind to our fellow humans during this cruel crossroad of human history. And kindness within skateboarding is no exception — nobody ever woke up to a Monster Energy Mercedes G-Wagon in their driveway for patiently waiting their turn at the skatepark. Earning the privilege of being paid to skate is as competitive as ever. I mean, don’t people find it a bit convenient that Ishod would “roll his ankle” in Toronto (his opponent’s city of residence) just days before the World Championship of Skateboarding? (I, Ishod starring Margot Robbie in her most transformative role yet coming to theaters Christmas 2019.)

All jokes aside, the recently pro Dustin Henry is as well known for being a sweetheart as he is for his dancey skateboarding — and not in a standard-issue sweetheart sort of way that all Canadians are born with, but with an extra dose of heart-meltingness that earned him our Skater You’d Be Most O.K. With Your Daughter Dating Award two years in a row. We spoke with him during a hungover week after Glory Challenge and his going pro surprise party to see if there is any truth to old idiom that nice guys finish last.

+++++++

What was your favorite part of Glory Challenge?

Meeting Nora.

How did it go down?

I was with Breezy [Breana Geering] and she was like, “Nora’s here!” We were in the Dime store, so we went outside looking for her and I was like, “Oh, she probably left, whatever.” Then I saw her from super far away, and we both just had our hands out. It was so cute.

Damn, what was the first thing you guys said to each other?

“Finally!” We chatted a bit and got lots of pictures. I felt bad though because I felt like I was chasing her all weekend. I hit her up every day: “Nora! Where you at?” Then she’s like, “I’m at the hotel.” And the next day I was like, “Nora! Where you at?” And she was like, “At the hotel.” I was too excited

How’d your first couple of days of being pro go? Is everything different? Does the air taste fresher?

I wish I was in New York with you guys. I feel like I should just live in New York — like, living in the place where the company actually is. Montreal is nice though.

Did you have an idea in your head of what being pro would be like when you were a kid?

I guess it was different back then, because you’d see pros that were just living so crazy, just seeing Muska having nice cars and crazy houses.

Want to run down your extensive sponsor history?

I got a package from Supra [Distribution] of Girl boards. Then I started getting City Skateboards. And then City went under, so I rode for Think. And then I rode for Toy Machine. And then I got on Cliché.

What the fuck…

And then I got on Polar. And then Alltimers.

Photo by Colin Sussingham

You guys have it a bit different than how the States is. Do you want to explain how being sponsored by a distributor works in Canada? Everyone can only ride for companies the distro carries?

Yeah, that was another thing too: you would have to ride the same wheels that the distro carries, the same trucks, or clothes. You can’t say, “Oh I’m gonna ride these other wheels.” If you quit one of the companies under the umbrella, then you are off all of them. And you never talk to the people at the actual companies in the States, just people at the distribution in Canada.

But that’s no explanation for riding for five different board companies. I feel like I was just too focused on it.

All right, to switch gears a bit, if you had to give up coffee or Corona for life, which one would have to go?

Corona. I’m sorry to say, but I kind of want to give up coffee too — sometimes I don’t even enjoy it that much. But maybe it’s because I overdo it.

Are there a lot of native skaters in Canada? Was your experience growing up any different because you’re part native?

Joe Buffalo is the only one I can think of that has made an impact on Canadian skating.

My dad’s half and I’m a quarter. I feel like a lot of people don’t know that I’m Aboriginal. That’s what I’m going to school for, is just all these things together. My great grandparents are so inspiring. They’re from my dad’s side of the family, which is from Dawson City in the Yukon. They both passed away, but they were the longest living married couple in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Are you serious?

They were together for 100 years — not 100 — but like 80 years or something. And they both lived to be like 104 and 106. I just look them up on the internet now and then there’s so much stuff. I think they were forced to be married, but then they ended up actually loving each other.

Yeah, clearly.

Their names were Joe and Annie Henry. I’ve read some stuff about Joe and he was like a snow shoer — they had like snow shoe races or something, and he got second in one of those big contests up there. They would just fish, hunt and do everything themselves. They named this highway after Joe Henry, and also my aunt up there lives on Joe Henry Street.

Photo by Colin Sussingham

Whoa.

So I don’t know too much, I need to ask my family more and go up to Dawson really soon. I really wanna get to know my relatives up there, and learn how they lived and hear all the stories, and get a better understanding of where I come from. Learn from my elders and the youth! Both are just as important. I grew up in Calgary, and didn’t go up there much so I hope to go soon with my brother.

Even when I told my roommate that I was going to school for First Peoples studies, he was like, “I feel like you skating and doing your thing is an impact.” That was nice to hear because I was thinking, “Oh, I’m blowing it. I just skate, I don’t even think about that. I need to get more involved.” I felt really guilty, but it’s a whole process. I just wanna be inspired to honor Aboriginal people because I feel like I didn’t really have that many inspiring me when I was growing up. I was trying to hide that I was Aboriginal. I’d go to a skate park and all the natives you would see were drunk. I would kind of hide it, but now, I’m growing up and realizing how special my heritage is.

All the classes I’m taking right now are just intro classes. I have Intro to First Peoples, and then there’s First Peoples in Canada, and then there’s a research class for the First Peoples.

And do you have something that you envision yourself doing work-wise?

I love how people make documentaries about it, so maybe making something like that.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Dish washing, but I loved working at Mais with Connor and Trevor! But I’ve done it for way too long and I’m so over it.

Do you still do it?

No, thank God. I did it for four years. I worked full-time at like ten different places because I’d get so over it, quit or they’d fire me. And then I would get another dish washing job, because you can’t get any jobs here if you don’t speak French. You can work in a warehouse or you wash dishes. There is something satisfying about dishwashing though.

How’d you end up in Montreal, why do you live there?

Vans bought me a ticket here. I was coming here just to visit, and then I stayed.

It seems like that’s a common story.

Yeah, it is a common story. It was just an easy move and I didn’t have much so I started from scratch, which felt good. I also was ready to move out of my mom’s house, so I thought it would be sweet to start in a new city.

Why does everyone kind of end up getting stuck out there?

In Montreal? Because it’s cheap and people party all the time, that’s it. And there’s lots of people who do like a bunch of different creative stuff, which is cool.

How has life as a blonde been? Is there any truth to the phrase, “Blondes have more fun?”

Yes. I’ve had way more fun since I’ve been blonde. I was so scared to do it and once I did, I had to figure out the length and the cut. I get more compliments, and it’s definitely more fun to play with your hair when it’s blonde.

Photo by Colin Sussingham

Were there any particular events in your life that drove you to become such a sweetheart? You are obviously well-known for being one.

I give all the credit to my family and friends.

Just to counter that point, do you wanna list five things that bum you out?

There are a lot of things that bum me out.

Let’s give five. They don’t need to be too controversial.

Anything?

I guess, yeah, but something more interesting than stubbing your toe. Obviously that bums everyone out.

I hate when people wear pants with no belt.

Why?

I don’t know, it just doesn’t look right. Do you know where I’m coming from?

Not really.

Like if people wear a pair of pants with no belt, it looks so weird. Especially if they tuck their shirt in and they have no belt.

Okay, that’s one.

Hate distributor package deals.

That’s two.

I hate when people don’t ride Sternum Trucks.

Three.

[Long pause] Dude I can come up with them I know, I’m bad on the spot. I’m so nervous to do this.

Alright. Do you have any thoughts on the idiom that “Nice guys finish last?”

No way! Just be grateful for what you have and you will never feel like you’re finishing in last.

You still gotta think of two other things that bum you out.

Okay.

5 Comments

  1. Nice on all fronts, and perhaps the most graceful flair manual ever. Much love dusty.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *