Dwayne Provo named associate deputy minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs

·3 min read
Dwayne Provo has twice run for the Progressive Conservative Party and is now the associate deputy minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.  (African Nova Scotian Affairs - image credit)
Dwayne Provo has twice run for the Progressive Conservative Party and is now the associate deputy minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. (African Nova Scotian Affairs - image credit)

Dwayne Provo, a Black educational administrator, has been named associate deputy minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs — an appointment that follows weeks of backlash after white men were assigned to the office's top two positions.

Under the appointment, which took effect Oct. 7, Provo becomes the third-most senior official at the office, under Pat Dunn, the minister, and Justin Huston, the deputy.

"It was great to have that call," Provo told CBC News on Tuesday. "It was one that intrigued me, that's for sure."

Dunn was appointed minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs in August following his re-election as MLA for the riding of Pictou Centre.

Shortly after his appointment, Dunn dismissed a deputy minister who is Black and replaced her with Huston.

Calls for Black representation

The shakeup prompted outcry from some in Nova Scotia's Black community.

Black Family Meeting, a group of roughly 300 Black Nova Scotians, sent a delegation to Premier Tim Houston and Dunn calling for Black representation in the positions of minister and deputy minister, and on the province's top health board.

Carolann Wright, a spokesperson for the group, congratulated Provo on his appointment in an emailed statement to CBC News.

"We presented a strategic ask related to competency, agency and representation at an influential and decision-making level," Wright said.

Wright added that Black Family Meeting would have more to say soon.

'Substantive change'

Provo became well known in Nova Scotia during his professional career from 1995 to 2002 as a defensive back in the CFL, plus a period training with the New England Patriots.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

He ran unsuccessfully for the PC party in his home riding of Preston in 2006 and 2009.

Since his departure from football, Provo has worked in education administration, most recently with Nova Scotia's Education Department where he advised the head of the province's education centres on issues facing Black students.

Provo said he's excited to get working in his new role.

"The idea just becomes making sure that we have the ability to actually bring forward those concerns and try to get some substantive change, not just necessarily talking about it, but those real solutions that manifest themselves on the ground," he said.

He said the feedback he's had so far from the Black community has been positive.

"The people are very pleased in terms of my appointment," Provo said.

Representation at the top

Dunn said the decision to appoint Provo stems from a meeting he and the premier recently had with prominent members of the Black community.

"They were very vocal about getting representation at higher levels in our department," Dunn said in an interview at Province House.

Provo is a well-respected community member with extensive work on education files, said the minister. The two worked together briefly when Dunn was a cabinet minister in the former Rodney MacDonald government.

"It's nice to have someone on board like Dwayne Provo," said Dunn.

"To have him with us, working with other associate deputy ministers and deputy ministers across various departments, it's certainly a great addition to our department."

No further changes expected

Last week, Houston suggested changes could be coming to the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs at as high a level as the deputy minister. But on Tuesday, Dunn said he does not anticipate a change in that position.

"African Nova Scotian Affairs is one cultural office within the Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage," department spokesperson Amelia Jarvis said in an email.

Huston is deputy minister for the entire department, she said, while Provo is specifically responsible for African Nova Scotian Affairs.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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