Marie Wilson (BA’72, MA’77) has dedicated her life to amplifying long-ignored voices. Starting as a pioneering CBC broadcaster in the north, and later as one of three Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada members, Wilson has challenged Canada to confront its past while paving a way forward. And her mission to tell stories of truth and justice started at Western.
Marie Wilson has more than 30 years of professional experience as an award-winning journalist, trainer, and senior executive manager. She has also been a university lecturer, a high school teacher in Africa, a senior executive manager in both federal and territorial Crown Corporations, and an independent contractor and consultant in journalism, program evaluation, and project management. She has lived, studied and worked in cross-cultural environments for almost forty years, including Europe, Africa, and various parts of Canada.
As a journalist, Wilson worked in print, radio and television as a regional and national reporter, and later as the CBC’s senior manager for northern Quebec and the three northern Territories. She was the first television program host of northern Canada’s flagship weekly information program, Focus North. Her reports tackled complex issues, from the Quebec sovereignty referendum and national unity debates to the national Constitutional talks of the 1980’s; from the settlement of historic aboriginal rights agreements to the state of health in First Nations and Inuit communities; from Papal visits to centennial celebrations of the Riel Rebellion.
As a Regional Director for the CBC, Wilson was a pioneer. She launched the first Daily Television News service for northern Canada, against a back-drop of four time zones and ten languages: English, French and eight indigenous. She developed the Arctic Winter Games and True North Concert series, to showcase northern performing artists and traditional indigenous sports for audiences across southern Canada. She fought for the recruitment and development of aboriginal staff and their on-air reflection. She acknowledged staff excellence with the CBC North Awards. She acknowledged the community with program initiatives to support and promote literacy.
A career highlight was to deliver training through the South African Broadcasting Corporation as part of that country’s transition to democracy, and coinciding with the start-up of South Africa’s own Truth and Reconciliation Commission. For several years she served as an associate board member of what was to become APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Over the years she has worked with various other boards and agencies committed to social justice, journalism and civic engagement, community, spiritual and international development, and the wellbeing of children and youth.
Wilson is the recipient of a CBC North Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Northerner of the Year Award, and various awards and recognitions for journalism, writing excellence, and work-place safety initiatives. She has received three honorary degrees from St. Thomas University, the University of Manitoba, and the Atlantic School of Theology. In 2016, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation appointed Wilson a Trudeau mentor and she received both the Order of the Northwest Territories and the Order of Canada.
Read more about Marie Wilson in the Winter 2017 issue of the Western Alumni Gazette.
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