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Dara Parker: Executive Director, Qmunity (Part One)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2015/09/02


Interview with Dara Parker. Executive director of Qmunity and co-president of the board (Vancouver) for the United Nations Association of Canada. She discusses: family geography, culture, and language; academic qualifications; skills and knowledge from volunteering;  previous work experience for present position; earning executive director position of Qmunity, media appearances in video and writing, and responsibilities of this public representation; definition and sub-populations contained within the umbrella term “queer”; queer sub-population numbers; import for unified services of Qmunity; most important provision of Qmunity to the queer community; importance of inclusive provisions by Qmunity; Reconciling Injustices in a Pluralistic Canada at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue quote with international, national, and provincial context and possible futures; and ways to become involved with Qmunity or the queer community in general.

Keywords: binary, bisexual, British Columbia, Canada, Dara Parker, executive director, gender identity, non-profit, Qmunity, queer, sexual orientation, trans, United Nations, Vancouver.

Dara Parker: Executive Director, Qmunity (Part One)

1. In terms of geography, culture, and language, where does your family background reside?

Geography, culture, and language, I am a Canadian born Anglophone who was raised in suburbia Toronto, and has been in Vancouver for the last ten and a half years.

2. You earned a partial Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in politics from University of Melbourne with its full completion from Queen’s University, a masters of planning in urban planning (international development) from The University of British Columbia, and a certificate of non-profit management executive from Duke University.[1],[2] What instigated the personal interest or need in these qualifications for personal and professional life?

I’m not sure if I was particularly strategic when thinking about a career path when choosing the formal education I’ve engaged in. The driving principle has always been to study things that I interested in.  And so that led to acquiring a bachelor of art, honours, in politics and drama, for my undergrad, and doing my masters in urban planning. And both of those were valuable educational experiences, but they certainly weren’t with the lens that one day I’d become the executive director of a queer non-profit. Although, I think certain aspects of those trainings were invaluable in leading me here. And then the most recent certificate in non-profit management was quite deliberate and in line with what I’m doing now.  I was awarded a fellowship this year to complete that non-profit management training, and then part of the fellowship I’ll be doing leadership training towards the end of the year.

3. You volunteered on the Board for Ship for World Youth and remain the Co-President of the Board (Vancouver) for the United Nations Association of Canada.[3],[4] What skills and knowledge did you gain from these experiences to date?

I think it’s incredibly valuable if you work in the non-profit if you also volunteer on the board of a non-profit because you can see what managing a non-profit looks like from both perspectives.  Being on the board of UNA Canada was particularly useful because it was an organization with a paid staff, and often gave me a glimpse into the perspective of my own board members at Qmunity would have.  And Additionally, I think it’s incredibly important to volunteer.  I have been a lifelong volunteer.  I think I started to volunteering when I was 15. And, for me, it’s personally important to give back to community, and that’s one of the ways that I can do that.

4. You worked for the Kids Help Phone (leadership director), Busabout, HAGGiS & Shamrocker Adventures (tour guide), Lesotho National Olympic Committee (Project manager), United Nations Association of Canada (Program Manager), City of Burnaby (Social Planner), UN-HABITAT United Nations Human Settlements Programme (Advisor), and Cuso International (Public Engagement Manager).[5],[6] Throughout this vast experience in numerous sectors for your career up to the present, how did these assist in the current position of executive director of Qmunity?[7],[8]

I think the common thread throughout my diverse career has been a commitment to social justice and social change.  As in that, positions have been quite different, certainly my work in non-profit helped prepare me for this role.  I think the value in working in multiple organizations is seeing multiple ways to doing things.  Some that work really well.  Some that you are able to throw out because they are not as effective.  So it was the combination of all of those experiences that led me to this role.

5. In addition, you earned the position of executive director of Qmunity.[9],[10],[11] You have numerous media appearances in video and writing too.[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34],[35],[36],[37],[38],[39],[40],[41],[42],[43],[44],[45],[46],[47],[48],[49],[50],[51],[52],[53],[54],[55],[56],[57],[58],[59],[60],[61],[62],[63],[64],[65],[66],[67],[68],[69],[70],[71],[72],[73],[74],[75],[76]  What additional duties and responsibilities come with this prominent, public, and respected position connected to attention from the media?

Being an executive director of a small non-profit means that you wear a lot of hats, you are often looking at finance and human resources and program development and fundraising, and everything in between.  And of course, you are often the spokesperson for the organization. And for our organization, that means a lot of media engagement.  We’re a small organization, but we ae the unique umbrella organization for LGBTQ communities across BC.  And so we do get a lot of requests from media to comment on various issues, and to help highlight what contemporary concerns are for our queer communities.  So that’s part and parcel.  But most of the EDs that I know who are the spokespeople for the organization, depending on the issue that you are working on, that you may have more or less media attention on that issue.  And I think queer and trans issues continue to receive a decent amount of media coverage.

6. “Queer,” as a term, means “someone with a non-normative sexual orientation or gender identity.”[77] Within this umbrella term, according to the general mandate of Qmunity, what sub-populations become implicated in it?

We welcome everyone under the rainbow umbrella that identifies, queer or trans, so anyone with a non-normative sexual orientation or gender identity, as you noted.  Some of those identities within those communities would include gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, intersex, asexual, pansexual, gender, queer, and lots of word that we get to use to name ourselves.  And then, we’re also looking at the intersection of our gender identity and sexual orientation that we carry.  For instance, being a person of color, or having a disability, or being a newcomer, et cetera.

[1] See LinkedIn (2015). Dara Parker.

[2] See (2015). Dara Parker.

[3] See LinkedIn (2015). Dara Parker.

[4] See (2015). Dara Parker.

[5] See LinkedIn (2015). Dara Parker.

[6] See (2015). Dara Parker.

[7] See LinkedIn (2015). Dara Parker.

[8] See (2015). Dara Parker.

[9] See LinkedIn (2015). Dara Parker.

[10] See Qmunity (2015). Staff: Dara Parker.

[11] See (2015). Dara Parker.

[12] See [SFU Centre for Dialogue] (2014, January 31). Dara Parker, Reconciling Injustices in a Pluralistic Canada.

[13] See YouTube (n.d.). Dara Parker.

[14] See [Dara Parker] (2013, September 26). Here’s The Deal Sept 25.

[15] See [Dara Parker] (2013, October 8). Here’s The Deal Oct 7.

[16] See [Dara Parker] (2013, October 24). Here’s The Deal Oct 23.

[17] See [Dara Parker] (2013, November 21). Here’s The Deal Nov 20.

[18] See [Dara Parker] (2013, December 6). Here’s The Deal Dec 4.

[19] See [Dara Parker] (2013, December 19). Here’s The Deal Dec 18.

[20] See [Dara Parker] (2014, January 16). Here’s The Deal Jan 15.

[21] See [Dara Parker] (2014, January 28). Here’s The Deal Jan 27.

[22] See [Dara Parker] (2014, February 13). Here’s The Deal Feb 12.

[23] See [Dara Parker] (2014, February 25). Here’s The Deal Feb 24.

[24] See [Dara Parker] (2014, March 11). Here’s The Deal Mar 10.

[25] See [Dara Parker] (2014, March 11). Here’s The Deal Feb 26.

[26] See [Dara Parker] (2014, March 28). Here’s The Deal.

[27] See [Dara Parker] (2015, January 15). Unfiltered January 9, 2015.

[28] See [Dara Parker] (2015, February 19). Inclusion Café at BC Housing.

[29] See (2008). 3Q’s.

[30] See The Vancouver Sun (2012, August 4). Video: The winding road back.

[31] See Robins, M. (2012, June 20). 20 Questions With QMUNITY’s Dara Parker.

[32] See Parker, D. (2000, September 19). A few thoughts on being a girl.

[33] See Twitter (2015). Dara Parker.

[34] See Parker, D. (2015, June 1). Have you forgotten already?.

[35] See Barsotti, N. (2012, November 25). Staff shakeup at Qmunity.

[36] See Takeuchi, C. (2013, December 20). Qmunity’s Dara Parker tackles homophobia against gay tenant in Vancouver.

[37] See Carney, L. (2013, August 29). Five Vancouver restaurant faves from QMUNITY’s Dara Parker.

[38] See Lewis, S. (2015, April 14). Qmunity to begin consultations on new queer community centre.

[39] See Lewis, S. (2013, April 16). Tight budget pushes Qmunity to plan programming changes.

[40] See Lewis, S. (2015, January 22). City still searching for new site for Qmunity centre.

[41] See Robins, M (2012, November 13). Spend 69 seconds with … Dara Parker.

[42] See Parker, D. (2015, April 2). Qmunity’s Dara Parker: Proving queerness a challenge for LGBT refugees in B.C..

[43] See Takeuchi, C. (2015, May 19). Speakers express challenges of being LGBT refugees and parents of trans children.

[44] See Parker, D. (2014, November 5). Qmunity’s Dara Parker: Three reasons why queer citizens should vote.

[45] See Lee, F (2012, September 28). Robust belief in inclusion brings globe trotter to West End QMUNITY.

[46] See Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue (2015, June 4). In the Media: Daily XTRA and The Georgia Straight Credit QMUNITY Consultation.

[47] See Positive Living Society of British Columbia (n.d.). Qmunity launches community consultations for new LGBT centre.

[48] See News Staff (2015, March 11). Hurtful messages from father after finding out son is gay raises questions on parental response.

[49] See WTC Café XXIV: LGBT2Q+ Café (2015, January 24). WTC Café XXIV: LGBT2Q+ Café.

[50] See Parker, D. (2013, August 3). It’s not safe for queer athletes at Sochi 2014 Olympics.

[51] See The Globe and Mail (2014, November 12). Transgender man files complaint against B.C. health ministry over surgical delay.

[52] See Mertl, S. (2014, September 23). Gay seniors fear going into care means going back in the closet: report.

[53] See Yuzda, L. (2015, March 25). Vancouver Police accused of failing to update discrimination policies.

[54] See admin (2013, February 27). Thank Q.

[55] See Chan, K. (2014, May 16). International Day Against Homophobia Breakfast Celebrates Being Gay and Grey.

[56] See Russell, R. (2013). Free to be me.

[57] See Janssen, M. (2015, May 27). Community Building 101.

[58] See Perelle, R. (2015, June 4). Qmunity centre consultation seems transparent and sincere.

[59] See News 1130 Staff (2015, June 26). Local gay community says SCOTUS ruling about same-sex marriage is ‘overwhelming’.

[60] See Filipenko, J. (2013). Aging with Uncertain.

[61] See CTV (2015, June 19). Business owner under fire.

[62] See Brocki, L. (2013, November 21). Vancouver city council approves 30-year vision for West End.

[63] See Fellows, O.Z. (2013, October 21). Davie Village aims to grow from gay roots. Retrieved from Davie Village aims to grow from gay roots.

[64] See Bernardo, M. (2015, June 26). Vancouver advocates cheer top US court ruling on same-sex marriage.

[65] See Dedyna, K. (2014, November 22). B.C. says ‘no one came forward’ for gender-alignment surgery.

[66] See Mui, M. (2013, October 17). Reprimanded teacher questioned whether parent was homophobic.

[67] See Schmunk, R. (2015, March 13). ‘This Is Worse Than Death’: B.C. Dad Reacts To His Son Coming Out.

[68] See Fumano, D. (2015, February 2). ‘A tragic day’: Ritch Dowrey, victim of violent 2009 West End gay bashing, dies.

[69] See Nursall, K. (2013, August 20). Anti-homophobia policies in schools reduce alcohol abuse for all students, UBC study finds.

[70] See Edmiston, J. (2013, July 25). ‘Heteronormative’ Burger Family no threat to LGBT, rights tribunal says after receiving ‘outrageous’ complaint.

[71] See Mietunnen, A. (2014, February 27). Community Voices: Responses to the West End Plan.

[72] See Chhibber, A. (2014, August 6). Canada: LGBs more at risk of teenage pregnancy, says British Columbia study.

[73] See Flock, E. (2013, August, 1). Russia’s Olympic Anti-Gay Threats Come After 2010’s ‘Gayest Olympics Ever’

[74] See Cassell, E. (2013, June 20). Canada marks 10 years of marriage equality ruling.

[75] See Ball D. (2015, August 5). Pregnancy a greater risk for lesbian, gay and bisexual B.C. teens, study finds.

[76] See Morris, K. (2014, August 11). Canadian Study Finds Gay and Lesbian Teens More Likely to Become Pregnant.

[77] See [Dara Parker] (2013, September 13). Here’s The Deal Sept 11.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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