Community is at the core of Dianne Sparrow’s work and life.
“My family instilled in me values around using my skills to help communities that I’m a part of,” explained the principal of Sparrow-Grant Consulting.
“Although I didn’t intend to be in the field that I ended up being in, I think the values my parents instilled in me just naturally led me into the field that I am in now.”
Sparrow’s journey has taken her across the country, from her mother’s community in northern Ontario to Winnipeg, when her family relocated for her father’s work, to Bearskin Lake First Nation for a stint as a high school teacher.
“It was a different lifestyle and it was hard for the first six months, but then you learn to love it,” Sparrow said of her time spent teaching in the remote, fly-in-only community.
Her family’s belief in the importance of higher education – and her twin sister’s educational experience – eventually encouraged Sparrow to pursue a master of arts in Indigenous governance from the University of Victoria.
“That decision to move out west, it changed everything for me,” Sparrow said. “That was sort of the turning point in my career.”
Sparrow’s capstone project in the program focused on the Musqueam First Nation and the B.C. treaty process. Her research ultimately led to her meeting her husband and becoming part of the community herself.
Twelve years ago, she started in her role as the associate director of the treaty, lands and resources department at Musqueam.
“Everything just fell into place when that happened,” she said.
In that capacity, she has helped the First Nation take advantage of a number of opportunities, including a revenue-sharing agreement with the Vancouver Airport Authority, employment at the airport’s jet fuel facility and a relationship protocol with BC Hydro.
She also worked on and leads the updates of the nation’s award-winning community plan, a development she describes as momentous for the Musqueam.
“I felt it was a big turning point for the nation, because we really grew from it. There was this path laid out for the community.”
Birthplace: Peterborough, Ontario
Where you live now: Musqueam First Nation
Highest level of education: Executive MBA in Indigenous business and leadership and an MA in Indigenous governance
Currently reading: Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger
Currently listening to: Mostly podcasts
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: Veterinarian or lawyer
Profession you would most like to try: Wedding planner
Toughest business or professional decision: Starting my EMBA the week I found out I was pregnant
Advice you would give the younger you: Be brave
What’s left to do: Continue to grow and support the team
Join us to celebrate the 2018 Forty under 40 Awards January 24, 2019, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/40-under-40.