Nov. 18, 2021
In Memoriam: Dr. Darren E. Lund, Werklund School of Education
It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of our friend, mentor and colleague, Dr. Darren Lund, PhD.
Darren’s reputation as a community leader and scholar-activist committed to advancing social justice is known to many. His advocacy for human rights and LGBTQ2S+ work in schools and communities continues to have a positive impact locally, nationally and internationally.
Prior to joining the University of Calgary, Darren worked as a high school teacher in Red Deer, Alta., for 16 years. During his first year at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, he joined with students to form the Students and Teachers Opposing Prejudice (STOP) program. This award-winning initiative engaged school, community and government stakeholders to challenge racism and other forms of discrimination. In 2000, STOP formed Alberta’s first-ever Gay-Straight Alliance. The STOP program lasted for over two decades and inspired several similar school action groups around the province.
Darren brought this same dedication to inclusion, collaboration and leadership to UCalgary in 2002, where his Werklund School of Education colleagues noted that he viewed the mentorship experiences he engaged in as extensions of his philosophy, consistently placing social justice at the heart of education.
Darren’s co-founding of the Service-Learning Program for Diversity with Lianne Lee is just one example of how he put his philosophy into action. This partnership with agencies such as the YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre, the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association and the Immigration Education Society, uses community-driven research to implement system-level changes that contribute to the quality of life of diverse children, youth and their families.
“I know that the dozens of community organizations that have partnered with us throughout the project would say that Darren’s humility, wisdom and collaborative spirit were foundational to the project’s impact across Calgary,” says Lee. “Darren was my mentor, friend and dear colleague. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside him and I know his passion for social justice lives on in many of us.”
While leading numerous other projects as well as teaching, researching, publishing and supervising students, Darren still made a point of sharing his time and expertise with the broader community. Darren was associated with several organizations and committees that benefitted from his insight, such as the Calgary Police Service’s Anti-Racism Action Committee, Alberta Association for Multicultural Education, and the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta.
Despite these myriad undertakings, Darren consistently inspired his students and ensured they were properly supported.
“Darren was an incredible mentor and passionate advocate for social justice in education,” says Dr. David Scott, PhD’16. “Darren taught me that any form of education worthy of the name requires us to take risks and fight for values and ideals that seek to root out racism, discrimination and oppression in all its forms, including those that reside within ourselves.”
“Doctoral supervisors are very special, and mine, Darren Lund, was exceptional. ‘Onward’, as he often said to me when my doctoral slog became harder, ‘The work is not done’,” recalls Dr. Astrid Kendrick, PhD’18. “May he rest peacefully knowing his work lives on in the hundreds of his former high school, undergraduate, and graduate students that he inspired to pick up the torch of social justice to pass onto the next generation.”
Throughout his notable career, Darren garnered a long list of accolades including the American Educational Research Association’s Distinguished Scholar-Activist Award; the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engaged Learning’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award; the Alberta Teachers’ Association Educational Research Award; and most recently, the inaugural 2021 Werklund Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award. He was also named a Reader’s Digest National Leader in Education.
While proud of these acknowledgements, Darren’s focus was always advocating for others. He never wavered in his support of equity and inclusion. He never avoided difficult paths or discussions in his role as an ally.
“Darren continued to stand up against hate and intolerance, advocating and serving the diverse needs of individuals and communities who had less privilege and ability to do so. More importantly, he also encouraged youth to find their voice, fostering their agency and empowerment to make the world a better place,” says Werklund School Dean Dr. Dianne Gereluk, PhD.
“Darren spoke from the heart, often starting from a point of empathy: listening first and hoping to better understand before weighing in. These dispositions created an invitation to feel welcome – safe – that your voice mattered.”
“He will be missed, not forgotten.”
A celebration of Darren’s life will be held at a future date.
The UCalgary campus flag will be lowered to half-mast in honour of Darren on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.
In remembrance of Darren's life and his commitment to education, charitable donations may be made to the Darren E. Lund Memorial Graduate Award at the University of Calgary.