Dwayne Provo to channel lived experience as Assistant Assistant for African Nova Scotian Affairs

The first action item on Dwayne Provo’s agenda is to connect with African descent communities across Nova Scotia and make sure they are all heard.

This is a task for which the new Associate Deputy Minister of the Office of African Nova Scotia Affairs is prepared, he said, through his years of community involvement.

“(I will) the same way I’ve always had for the last 20 years is making sure that… we’re out there and we’re out on the pitch and actually listening to those voices,” a- he said in an interview in front of the building housing the office.

Provo said he was approached for the new role about a week ago and appointed yesterday. The move comes amid criticism over the appointment of Pat Dunn, who is white, as Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. Justin Huston, who is also white, has been appointed deputy.

Be part of the solution

The lack of black representation in the top two positions in the office, as well as the dismissal of two black women from positions of power, have raised concerns within the African Nova Scotian community.

The women were Kesa Munroe-Anderson, who was removed from her post as Deputy Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, and Dr. OmiSoore Dryden who was fired from the board of directors of Nova Scotia Health after the disbandment of the Board of Directors by Premier Tim Houston in September.

A coalition of community groups, called the Black Family Meeting, met with Houston and Dunn last week to relay the thoughts of African-descent Nova Scotians on the change. More than 200 people shared their views at an online event organized by the coalition.

Although Provo did not attend the event due to his work with the government, he said he had had conversations with members of the community about the issue.

Provo said he hoped his appointment would be part of the solution.

“It was good that some voices came together and you could come up with a platform in terms of some of their concerns,” he said.

The Black Family Meeting did not comment on the new post, but said it would meet Thursday evening to consult with the community.

Give voice to the community

Provo plans to keep the conversation alive to address the lack of representation in all areas, including justice, healthcare and education.

“It’s extremely important… to always… have a lived perspective,” said Provo.

“And so, to be able to do that, and then be able to bring those concerns directly to (Minister Dunn), I think that will definitely be of benefit to our community.”

Provo was born in North Preston and raised between the community and East Preston.

He ran unsuccessfully for the Progressive Conservatives in the Preston constituency in 2006 and 2009. Liberal Angela Simmonds won the seat this year.

“One of the reasons I showed up is because I still think it’s important that our community has a voice,” he said Wednesday.

Prior to taking on this new role, Provo was Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Black Educators Association. He also worked with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development where he advised regional education centers on issues affecting black students.

“I have been a strong advocate for the advancement of African Nova Scotians, especially in education. And so, I have fought on the ground, and I have been in each of our communities, and I have put programs in place, but I know that it is necessary to have a voice at a higher level. “

Nebal Snan is a reporter for the Local Journalism Initiative, a federally funded post.

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