Marie Wilson spent three decades in an illustrious journalism career before becoming one of three commissioners of the historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). At the TRC, she worked for six and a half years to reveal the history and impacts of more than a century of forced residential schooling for Indigenous children. She has continued her efforts in advancing reconciliation as the 2016 Professor of Practice in Global Governance at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development, and as a widely sought public speaker both within Canada and internationally.
Wilson was appointed a TRC commissioner after a career as an award-winning journalist, trainer, senior executive manager, independent contractor, and consultant in journalism, program evaluation, and project management. She has been a professor at two Canadian universities, and a high school teacher in Africa. She has lived, studied, and worked in cross-cultural environments, including Europe, Africa, and various parts of Canada, for over forty-five years.
In journalism, Wilson worked in print, radio, and television as a regional and national reporter. She was the founding host of the North’s first weekly television current affairs program, Focus North. As Regional Director for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, she launched the North’s first daily television news service against the backdrop of four time zones and ten languages (English, French and eight Indigenous languages). From CBC North, Wilson developed the Arctic Winter Games and True North Concert series for national audiences, in order to share unique Northern musical performance and Indigenous sports with the rest of the country. She recruited and developed Indigenous staff, established the CBC North Awards to acknowledge staff excellence, and devoted programming to support and promote literacy, including Indigenous languages. Beyond the CBC, she served as an associate board member of what would become APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. For several years, Wilson was a member and Chair of the CBC’s Training Advisory Committee, providing training both within the CBC and outside the country. A career highlight was working with the South African Broadcasting Corporation to prepare TV journalists to cover the first democratic election and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission there, during South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy.
Wilson holds post-graduate degrees in French and journalism and certificates in project management and program evaluation. She has earned various recognitions for journalism, writing, and workplace safety initiatives. Her awards include CBC North Lifetime Achievement, Northerner of the Year, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and honorary doctorates from St. Thomas University, the University of Manitoba, and the Atlantic School of Theology. She has been appointed a 2016-2017 mentor with the prestigious Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, and has received the 2016 Calgary Peace Prize, the Toronto Heart and Vision Award, and the Grace-Pepin Award for access to information. She has recently received both the Order of Canada, and the Order of the Northwest Territories. Her most treasured reward remains her three children and four grandchildren.