HALIFAX — A well known educational administrator has been added to the ministerial staff at the Office of Nova Scotian Affairs after criticism about the lack of any Black people in the office's key roles.
Premier Tim Houston said Wednesday that Dwayne Provo will serve as associate deputy minister, calling him a "quality person" for whom he has a lot of respect.
"We want that office to be effective, and I have great confidence in Dwayne," he told reporters.
Houston has drawn fire since he appointed Pat Dunn, who is white, as minister for the office after the Progressive Conservatives won the Aug. 17 election without electing any Black candidates. Critics suggested a minister could have been appointed from outside the Tory caucus, and they also objected to the removal of Kesa Munroe-Anderson, who is Black, as a deputy minister in the office.
Last week, Houston said his government was re-examining its decision to appoint a new deputy minister who is not Black, but he now says Provo's appointment fulfils "the spirit" of what representatives from a coalition of African Nova Scotian community groups sought in a meeting two weeks ago.
He said Provo will act more as a CEO in his new role.
"It was one of their asks ... that there be somebody in that role that understands the community and is respected in the community, and I believe that person is Dwayne," Houston said.
Provo's appointment took effect on Oct. 7. He had previously worked in the province's Education Department, where he was an adviser on issues facing Black students.
In an interview Wednesday, Provo said he was excited by his new appointment.
"It's a real opportunity to do some things for the African Nova Scotian community," he said. "I think one of the things is just making sure there is a voice that's reflective ... of our historic Black communities."
Provo said it will also be important to ensure that there is ongoing community engagement with the office.
Formerly a star defensive back in football at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Provo is best known for a pro career that saw a brief stint with the New England Patriots before eight years in the CFL. He also ran twice for the provincial Progressive Conservatives but wasn't elected.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2021.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press