The Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies is a division of the Faculty of Health
Protecting, enhancing, and promoting Canada’s treasured parks
Canada’s vast landscapes and treasured parks have always drawn people from global reaches. Images of sprawling forests and scores of lakes epitomize Canada. The Canadian Parks Council brings together federal, provincial, and territorial parks agencies to ensure that park establishment and planning protects nature and the experiences Canadians and worldwide travelers seek to enjoy. Heading up the Canadian Parks Council is a MA Recreation and Leisure Studies graduate, Dawn Carr as Executive Director. In her role, she convenes senior executives and oversees projects that have been identified to promote excellence and advance the powerful benefits of parks for our environment, society and economy.
As a teenager, Dawn was selected to take part in the Ontario Rangers Program, a youth employment opportunity that took her to Northern Ontario for an entire summer. Having been raised in Mississauga, (a bustling urban city in Southern Ontario) Canada’s wilderness was a stark contrast for Dawn. Her experiences that summer inspired her to enrol in the undergraduate Recreation and Leisure Studies program at the University of Waterloo. Throughout her studies, she worked every summer in parks or protected areas, and her passion for this field led her to complete her Master's in Recreation and Leisure Studies – also at Waterloo.
“It was in my best interest to continue my education at Waterloo because of the reputation that the university has, and calibre of the professors that I could learn from. I have no regrets that way – and definitely my time there has absolutely been beneficial for my career.”
There’s a real sense for Dawn that she’s making a difference to improve the health and wellbeing of Canadians in her role as Executive Director at the CPC. “At my core, I know the work I'm doing is important. At this level, I'm able to collaborate with other leaders nationally and internationally and I feel like I’m able to implement and influence change that increases action and support for conservation globally and a love for parks close to home”.
Not just a walk in the park
On a daily basis, Dawn has to navigate the priorities and shared interests between various levels of government and other partners across Canada. Dawn really draws on her past experiences - both from the University of Waterloo, and her life’s journey after she left the institution – to find the language and landscape needed to work toward consensus within and across the parks community. She attributes her experience at Waterloo to building a strong sense of community that helps her both in her career and on a personal level; “At Waterloo, there’s a tangible commitment to be better, and create something greater, for and with our diverse Canadian community. With the work that I’m involved in now, I’m able to contribute back to making Canada a better place by inspiring and growing a love of nature.”
The job carries a heavy responsibility, but is one that she loves. In particular, she is delighted that in the summer months a good Wi-Fi connection means that when she’s not in meetings she’s able to take the “national headquarters” of the CPC to her beloved Georgian Bay. There, she's able to work taking care Canada’s parks while looking out of her window at all the beauty it has to offer.