Since 2009, Marie Wilson has been one of the three Commissioners chosen to lead the historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, probing into the history and impacts of more than a century of forced residential schooling for aboriginal children.
Ms. Wilson came to be Commissioner following 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, Ms Wilson worked in print, radio and television as a regional and national reporter, and then as the senior program and executive manager for the three northern Territories of Canada and northern Quebec. 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 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Ms 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 for a wider national audience in order to share unique northern performing artists and traditional indigenous sports with the rest of the country. She fought for the recruitment and development of aboriginal staff and their on-air reflection. She acknowledged staff excellence with the establishment of the CBC North Awards. She acknowledged the wider community with program initiatives to support and promote literacy.
For several years Ms Wilson was a member, and then Chair of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Training Advisory Committee, providing training both within the CBC, and internationally to several countries in Europe and South America, and South Africa. A career highlight was to deliver training through the South African Broadcasting Corporation as part of that country’s transition to democracy, preparing their journalists for broadcast coverage of South African’s first democratic election and their own Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
For several years Marie Wilson served as an associate board member of what was to become APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Over the years she has also 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.
In 2012 Ms Wilson received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from St. Thomas University in New Brunswick in recognition of her contributions to excellence in communications, education, civic and democratic engagement and social justice. She has also received a CBC North Award for Lifetime Achievement, a Northerner of the Year Award, and various recognitions for journalism, writing, and work-place safety initiatives. She has post-graduate degrees in French and Journalism from the University of Western Ontario, certificates in project management and program evaluation, and a French language certificate from the University of Besancon, France.
Marie Wilson is married to the Honourable Stephen Kakfwi. They are blessed with three children, Kyla, Daylyn and Keenan, and four grandchildren, Maslyn, Tydzeh, Sadeya and Ry’den.