Desmond Parker

Desmond Parker
Place of Birth: 
Trinidad & Tobago
Graduation Years: 
Department / Division: 
Modern Languages

Everyone at UTM should know how much I appreciate them setting me on my career path and how useful they are in creating global citizens and linkages that can make a difference in tomorrow’s world.

Desmond Parker

Desmond Parker’s 40-year career in international diplomacy and protocol has taken him from a university campus in Nigeria to United Nations peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Liberia and Nepal, from  Government of Trinidad and Tobago postings in Washington, D.C. to consulting work in Brazil and Qatar. He credits his career success to: his parents, who believed in education; the secondary school where he got a sound foundation in French and Spanish; and Erindale College (UTM) for grounding him in intellectual rigour and introducing him to a multicultural world.

“I am thankful to the people at UTM for helping me to stay grounded and focused,” Parker said.

Parker arrived in Canada in 1970 to study French and Spanish at U of T. He chose Erindale over St. George and Scarborough because “when I saw the young, developing campus in the countryside, it was so quiet and beautiful.” He also loved the multicultural nature of a campus that had “a population of foreign students that was greater than the Canadians.”

“It felt like home right away and it ended up being home,” Parker said. “I was also fortunate to have a Canadian family, the McClearys, who ‘adopted’ me and housed me when I arrived in Mississauga.”

With such a small student population, it was easy to make your voice heard, and Parker was quite outgoing. Everyone on campus – students, faculty and staff – knew Parker and he knew them. As part of various student groups, he “worked very hard to make sure student life was healthy and worthwhile apart from academics. I was very involved.”

After graduation, he added a post-graduate diploma in international relations and a master of arts in French to his language skills and has worked in peacekeeping and diplomacy ever since, often in conflict zones.  He retired from the United Nations in 2012 as the Chief of Protocol of the organization, and is currently using his language and protocol skills in Qatar, helping the emirate prepare for soccer’s 2022 FIFA World Cup, the first to be held in the Middle East.

His life’s work, Parker said, has been “bridging cultures and fostering cross-cultural understanding through dialogue. This is the essence of what I do, and it’s thanks to UTM.”

Selected Awards:

Model for the Desmond Parker Outstanding Young Alumni Award, a new award that recognizes inspirational young alumni who have demonstrated excellence in both professional achievement and community service. The award acknowledges Parker’s courageous passion and commitment to public service and human rights.