Special Advisor, Strategy and Plans for Parks Canada

Dave McVettyHands up if you experienced camping or national parks growing up? If so, you are more likely than the person beside you to support parks and natural areas as an adult.

Dave McVetty didn’t know he would grow up to be a self-described “parkie.” In fact, he chose Recreation and Leisure Studies (Business Option) because he wanted to be a recreation director. But Rec is a “degree that doesn’t force graduates into a specific career,” says McVetty. And as he moved through co-op placements and academic terms his interests evolved.

McVetty was encouraged by professors like Paul Eagles and the late Bob Graham to explore a career with Parks Canada. “They helped me to see that a career with Parks Canada was like a degree in Recreation…a door into a very big tent.” A tent with many possibilities: Parks Canada is the federal agency responsible for the administration of Canada’s system of national parks, historic sites, and national marine conservation areas.

McVetty himself has taken on many roles within Parks Canada – most notably, Superintendent of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in British Columbia. As a Superintendent, McVetty had to respond quickly to emerging issues, from tsunami alerts to wildlife incidents, as well as manage the day-to-day operations. He also had the privilege of working with First Nations Chiefs on cooperative management agreements.

McVetty has now taken on a new challenge as a Special Advisor, Strategy and Plans for Parks Canada. In this position, he is leading Parks Canada's Employee Support Initiative to help manage changes brought on by the recent federal budget.

Without hesitation, McVetty would encourage others to pursue a career in parks. “With parks, we can see the difference that we make.” McVetty looks at his two teenage daughters and hopes they are proud of his work. “If we do our job well, then Canada’s natural and historic treasures will be there for them and for the future generations of Canadians to understand, appreciate and enjoy…and that’s pretty cool.”

University of Waterloo