Junior League of Calgary Sustainer Bobbie Sparrow parlayed her experiences in business, philanthropy, and volunteer service into a career in politics, ultimately rising to the Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons.
Still a Sustainer in Junior League of Calgary, Bobbie has held an array of positions during her time there, including being elected President in 1969, eight years after moving to the city with her husband from Toronto. She went on to use many of the skills she acquired in the League as the Residential Chair of the United Way of Calgary, a volunteer role in which she raised money from the residential sector.
Widowed at the age of 37, it was her commitment to creating change that led her to such a varied career.
After serving as the president of three different businesses, Bobbie entered politics and was elected to the Canadian Parliament as a Member of the House of Commons. While in Parliament she chaired two Standing Committees, first heading up the country’s Ministry of Natural Resources and then the Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology, a post she was asked by the Prime Minister to take when it was created in 1988. In addition, from 1990 to 1993, she worked as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, where her training as an operating room nurse came in handy.
Even after leaving Parliament, Bobbie remained in public service, taking leadership roles on the Calgary Southwest Federal PC Electoral District board, the Calgary Glenmore Provincial PC Association, and two medical boards, one of which studies the issues of infection, inflammation and immunity worldwide, and another that advises Calgary Laboratory Services.
In addition to being inspired by the AJLI conferences she attended over the years, one of Bobbie’s most memorable experiences was her work in the early days of JLC’s Next–to-New shop, which sold clothing to disadvantaged families in the city. Getting to know the mothers who shopped there taught her a lot about the world as well as the issues affecting women and children that Leagues like Calgary address every day. During her Active tenure, Bobbie was also deeply affected by her work in the 1960s with children with special needs and children with autism, a newly diagnosed condition at the time.
So it seems that a start as an unpaid volunteer can pay off – even in politics!