Dwayne Provo appointed Assistant Assistant Secretary of State for African Nova Scotian Affairs

Dwayne Provo, a black education administrator, has been named deputy assistant secretary for African Nova Scotian Affairs – an appointment following weeks of backlash after white men were appointed to the top two positions in the bureau.

After the appointment, which went into effect Oct. 7, Provo will become the third-largest officer in the Bureau under Pat Dunn, Minister, and Justin Huston, Assistant.

“It was great to get that call,” Provo told CBC News on Tuesday. “It was one that intrigued me, that’s for sure.”

Dunn was named Minister for African Nova Scotian Affairs in August following his re-election as MLA for riding the Pictou Center.

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

Calls for Black Representation

The shock caused outrage among some in the Nova Scotia black community.

The Black Family Meeting, a group of about 300 Black Nova Scotians, sent a delegation to Prime Minister Tim Houston and Dunn calling for blacks to be represented in the positions of ministerial and deputy minister and on the provincial supreme health committee.

Carolann Wright, a spokeswoman for the group, congratulated Provo on his appointment in an email to CBC News.

“We asked a strategic question about competency, agency and representation at influential and decision-making levels,” Wright said.

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

“Substantive change”

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

In this photo taken in 2000, Provo fumbled during his professional football days in Edmonton. (Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press)

In 2006 and 2009 he ran unsuccessfully for the PC party in his hometown of Preston.

Since retiring from football, Provo has worked in education administration, most recently at the Nova Scotia Department of Education, where he advised the head of the provincial education centers on issues related to black students.

Provo said he looks forward to working in his new role.

“The idea is to make sure we are able to actually raise these concerns and try to make significant changes, not just talk about them, but real solutions that are manifesting on the ground,” he said.

He said the feedback he has received so far from the black community has been positive.

“People are very happy with my appointment,” said Provo.

Representation at the top

Dunn said the decision to appoint Provo stemmed from a meeting he and the prime minister recently had with prominent members of the black community.

“You have been very vocal in advocating higher-level representation in our department,” Dunn said in an interview at Province House.

Provo is a respected parishioner with extensive work on educational records, the minister said. The two worked briefly together when Dunn was cabinet secretary in the former Rodney MacDonald administration.

“It’s nice to have someone like Dwayne Provo on board,” said Dunn.

“Having him with us and working with other Deputy Ministers and Deputy Ministers in different departments is certainly a great addition to our department.”

No further changes expected

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

“African Nova Scotian Affairs is a cultural office within the Department for Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage,” department spokeswoman 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 racism against blacks to success stories within the black community – see Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.



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