5ENSES Immersion Retreat - Teacher Profile – Dean Nelson

Dean Nelson
Gay Whistler

An LGBTQ Inclusion and Diversity leader in travel and tourism.


CEO, Executive Producer of Whistler Pride Festival and the visionary behind the groundbreaking Olympic Pride House, will be honoured by his alma mater this spring with a human rights leadership award from Thompson Rivers University.

Graduating from the Thompson Rivers University in ’99 with a bachelor of tourism management, and was recognized for pushing “innovation in the LGBTQ community through many years in the hospitality industry and championing LGBT tourism.”

Nelson’s crowning achievement is probably founding the Pride House at the 2010 Winter Games, the Olympics’ first LGBTQ pavilion. The Vancouver and Whistler Pride Houses offered a safe space for LGBTQ athletes, coaches, visitors and supporters, and would lead to similar venues at the London 2012 Olympics, the 2015 Pan-Am Games in Toronto, and other international sporting events. Nelson was also a vocal presence ahead of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, where attempts to establish a Pride House were struck down by Russian officials. However, sexual orientation was added to the Olympic Charter’s anti-discrimination clause following the 2014 Games.

From there, Nelson was invited to attend the 2006 World Outgames in Montreal, a sporting and cultural event hosted by the gay community that is open to all sexual orientations. It opened his eyes to “the whole human rights aspect” of the LQBTQ world.

Since then, Nelson has transformed Whistler Pride into North America’s premier LGBTQ ski week, and, since 2012, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden has proclaimed Whistler Pride Week to kick off the festival. Dean has also served as a director on several volunteer boards, such as Travel Gay Canada, the Vancouver Pride Society and the InterPride Vancouver 2010 Conference.


- excerpt from article posted in

Pique News Magazine - March 6, 2016

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