Navigating a gunpoint situation in Kenya. Camping near the flaming Darvazaa gas crater in Turkmenistan. Manually flagging down a train in Sicily. Co-creating a Great Lakes funding program with Ontario Indigenous groups. Relaxing in hot springs in Iceland. Developing a climate peace and security policy for the Canadian government. Grebel alumnus Patrick Quealey (BES 2002) enjoys regaling friends with stories of his adventures – anecdotes collected during his extensive personal travels and experiences from his career with Canada’s government. Patrick shines while trying new things, exploring unknown territory (both physically and in policy), and creating connections.

Community building, environmental responsibility, and the importance of negotiation have been a foundation for Patrick’s life. While completing his Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree with a Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) minor and an International Studies option, Patrick lived at and associated with Grebel, holding numerous leadership roles. Grebelites will remember Patrick as passionate, mischievous, and driven by his ideals and a sense of what is right.

Grebel alumnus Patrick Quealey (BES 2002)

“Influence and leadership don’t need to come with titles,” stated Patrick. “Some of the most robust leadership I practiced while at Grebel, and which I’ve taken with me in my life, is the ability to stand up for my community and beliefs, even in the face of strong opposition from peers and administrators. You might not always win but respectfully, consistently, and strongly standing up even when there is opposition to you is one of the clearest lessons in leadership I’ve learned.”

Patrick went to university with a desire to make a difference in the world. “In Grebel’s culture of debate, openness, learning, and respect, I and most students thrived,” reflected Patrick. “Then, upon leaving Grebel, we enter the world as warrior change-agents with hearts of gold. We may feel lost, overconfident, we may be math geniuses or want to save the world through green energy or folksong, but the one common theme for me and most students is that we want to make a difference and often do – both, while at Grebel and after.”

Patrick took that world-changing attitude into his career in public service. Sparked by an impactful first co-op job at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. working on energy and environmental resource issues, Patrick discovered his life’s purpose. “My desire to serve my country, engage in international diplomacy and geopolitics, and have a great time while doing it was set,” he shared. “This co-op job pretty much set the tone of my life for the next decade, and threads of my life, both positive and negative, originated from this one pivotal and humbling experience.”

After graduating, Patrick began his career in Ottawa as Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He then moved to be Deputy Director of Regional Policy Issues and Indigenous Relationships in the Ontario Regional Director General’s office for Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC ) with a stint as the Director of Economic Development at Indigenous Services Canada. Patrick worked for a short time as Deputy Director of the Oil and Gas division at ECCC before taking on his current role.

Now working out of Toronto, Patrick is the Deputy Director for Asia within the Bilateral Affairs Division at Natural Resources Canada. Patrick builds relationships between Canada and key partners in the Indo-Pacific with respect to energy and natural resources. This includes spearheading work related to diversifying energy and resource supply chains in the Indo-Pacific, while supporting the transition to less carbon intensive sources of energy in the region. Recently, Patrick put his negotiation skills to task in negotiating key portions of the Canada-Korea MOU on Energy security and critical minerals, as well as working to renew the Canada-Japan Energy Policy Dialogue.

Equipped with essential peacemaking skills gleaned from Grebel PACS courses, Patrick recognizes that negotiation is a core aspect of responsibility in many of his roles. For example, while working for Foreign Affairs, he was a lead Canadian negotiator under the UN Climate Change Convention and steered the development of the Government of Canada views on the linkages between environmental degradation, climate change, peace, and security.

“One of my proudest accomplishments took place when I led the development of the first environment climate and security policy for the Canadian Foreign Affairs ministry,” described Patrick. “This work was based on my grad theses and developed to identify Canadian priorities for how the linkages between environmental factors and conflict intersect. More concretely, it was created to use a resource governance lens to solve conflicts where they had begun and avoid them where the risk of conflict was high.”  With respect to this project, Patrick then led funding for an NGO in Sudan working with residents of a village to improve their land, water, and livestock management. “This in turn allowed residents who had fled during times of conflict to return, while suitably managing the additional strain on village resources these returnees would create,” explained Patrick.

Another fulfilling project focused on the co-development of a funding program for Indigenous communities on the Great Lakes, developed with indigenous communities. “This was not government imposing a system, but rather working collaboratively with relevant First Nations groups to jointly develop the scope, conditions, eligibility, and outcomes of the programme,” described Patrick. “People in authority and in the media like to talk about nation-to-nation relationships, but we often still fall short of that. It was an honour to attempt to do this in a more collaborative way, respecting all parties.”

Building on his commitment to community, first nurtured during his time at Grebel, Patrick also volunteers locally. Among many involvements, he noted his past connection to Project Comfort, a temporary community organization that was set up to foster stronger ties between the community and respite centres for people experiencing homelessness near his home. Previously, Patrick served on the program committee for the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs’ annual policy conference, and as the Vice-President of Causeway Work Centre’s Board – an organization that promotes employability for individuals suffering from poverty, mental illness, and addictions. As a member and then Chair of the City of Ottawa’s Environmental Advisory Committee, Patrick’s volunteer efforts led to an expansion in the car-free areas of the Byward Market, and the creation of the Ottawa Sustainability Fund, a private endowment focused on funding projects that enhance renewable energy and energy efficiency at the community level.

Patrick continues to speak out for what he believes in, and he continues to be a change agent – in his work, in his family, and in his community. As such, it is not surprising he had some poignant words of recommendation for Grebel students. “Keep the balance of real respect, openness, learning, debate, love, understanding, creativity, mischievousness and mutual support,” he advised. “Grebel is a gem. What the Grebel culture has created, and continues to create, must never be taken for granted. It is as rare in this world as our world is in the cosmos.”

Patrick’s memories of the ethos at Grebel are striking. “I speak highly and often about the culture at Grebel; a space for everyone to belong regardless of background, belief, or political stripe. This seems rooted in a rare and unique deep institutional commitment to accept each person as a person worthy of love and respect,” noted Patrick.  “Many organizations, employers, clubs, and groups talk about supporting diversity, and empowerment and respect, but Grebel was, and is, all of those things by its demonstrated actions on a daily basis over the generations of its existence.” 

BIO: Patrick Quealey completed is BES (Hons. Coop), Peace and Conflict Studies minor with an International Studies option, at the University of Waterloo in 2002. Patrick went on to complete an MSc. in Environment and Economic Development at the London School of Economics in 2004. Patrick is currently the Deputy Director for Asia within the Bilateral Affairs Division at Natural Resources Canada and the Vice-President of his condo’s Board of Directors. Patrick is especially proud of his two boys Malcolm (14) and Kyran (13). He enjoys watching them become fascinating, talented, responsible, intelligent, and caring human beings. Together they play board games, travel, and enjoy sci-fi shows and movies. Beyond parenting, Patrick’s biggest passion is travelling and has visited many counties across the world.  He is an avid reader of science fiction and world affairs, a regular concert goer, and a lover of live theatre, musicals, escape rooms, and nature.

Patrick's story is part of Grebel's 60 Stories for 60 Years project. Check out our 60 Stories page for more articles in this series. If you would like to nominate a Grebel alumnus to share about their experiences at Grebel, please submit a nomination form.

By Jennifer Konkle and Mary Brubaker-Zehr