Summary of the First Meeting of the Indigenous Advisory Committee July 18-19, 2019, Gatineau

Meeting Objectives

The mandate of the Indigenous Advisory Committee is to provide the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) expert advice for the development of policy and program development to help ensure that the unique rights, interests and perspectives of Indigenous peoples are acknowledged, affirmed and implemented in environmental and impact assessment. The Committee will also be asked to advise on approaches for co-development and engagement with Indigenous peoples on policy and guidance products. The Committee is comprised of 12 experts working in their personal capacity who will provide advice to the Agency that is non-project specific.

The objectives of the Committee’s first meeting were to discuss the governance of the Committee and to engage the members on the following topics: the Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines, the Indigenous Knowledge Framework, the Agency’s research priorities, and future Indigenous policy priorities.

DAY 1 – July 18, 2019

Welcome and opening remarks

The meeting began with an opening prayer by Elder Verna McGregor from the Algonquin Community of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg. The Agency’s Ex-Officio member of the Committee and the President of the Agency welcomed the members. In his remarks, the President noted the that the Committee was established to obtain expert advice on environmental and impact assessments reflecting broad and inclusive perspectives of the unique rights, interests and priorities of the Indigenous peoples in Canada. It was noted, that the Agency was preparing for the coming into force of the Impact Assessment Act. The President expressed his confidence in the collective expertise of the Committee in providing advice to the Agency to help navigate the challenges related to transitioning to the new system. The Ex-Officio member underscored his commitment to take the Committee’s advice to the right parts of the Agency and relevant government departments.

Agenda item: Working together

The co-chairs led a discussion on ground rules for meetings. There was an initial discussion of the most effective manner to provide input to the Agency. Members indicated that they had not reviewed all materials provided, therefore feedback should not be taken as formal advice at this point.

Agenda item: Terms of Reference (TORs)

The co-chairs led a discussion on the Committee’s TORs. Based on the discussion, the Committee proposed the following revisions to the current draft of the TORs:

Members agreed that confidentiality is addressed sufficiently in the current draft. As outlined in the current draft, the Committee will operate in an open and transparent manner and the final records of proceedings and Committee reports will be made publicly available on the Agency’s website, subject to confidentiality requirements under legislation or government policies.

In reference to a question about extending membership tenure, the Agency noted that Co-chairs and members are appointed for a term of up to three years and tenures are staggered to allow for continuity and systematic rotation of membership. The Agency noted that there is flexibility to re-evaluate and re-appoint members at the end of their tenure.

Members emphasized the need for clear and reasonable timelines for the Committee to obtain documents (e.g., meeting summary, agendas and meeting documents) in order to ensure sufficient time for review. The Committee will review the summary (or minutes) prepared by the Agency before it is published. In the case that no comments are provided within the given deadline, it will be deemed there are no revisions to the current draft.

Agenda item: Agency Policy priorities

The Agency provided an overview of the policy work that has been undertaken to date as well as future planned work. Priority areas for policy development and guidance include:

The Agency noted it was leading a series of workshops with Indigenous organizations and communities and outlined how it plans to continue to engage with Indigenous organizations and communities in the upcoming months.

To focus the work of the Committee, members were asked to consider what priority areas they would like to focus on going forward. The Agency will update these documents over time based on input and consultations with communities.

Agenda item: Agency Research Priorities

The Agency sought the Committee’s views on the Agency’s priorities for “Targeted Research,” situating it in the context of its 5-year research plan. An overview of past research was provided. Members suggested cumulative effects and adaptive management as a potential area for policy research.

Agenda item: Policy Discussion – Indigenous Knowledge

A member of the Interdepartmental Task Team on the Environmental and Regulatory Reviews presented the collaborative work (coordinating with the Agency, Transport Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Natural Resources Canada) on drafting an Indigenous Knowledge (IK) Policy Framework for project reviews and regulatory decisions. The draft Framework will build on existing best practices and expertise to support consistency, transparency and predictability across federal departments.

The Agency also provided a brief overview of interim procedural guidance on IK under development that aimed at supporting practices under the IAA.

Members discussed the following topics:

DAY 2 – JULY 19, 2019

Agenda item: Collaboration with Indigenous Communities

The Vice-President of the Agency’s External Relations and Strategic Policy Sector spoke to the importance of the Committee and led a discussion on how the Agency can better collaborate with Indigenous peoples going forward.

Members highlighted their experiences and noted a number of best-practices and examples for further consideration:

An Agency official provided an overview on what has been done to date to collaborate on policy development, including a series of technical workshops, launching a Capacity Support Program, providing community-level funding to support feedback in the engagement process, as well as working with this Committee to develop approaches to go back into communities for engagement sessions.

Members discussed the following issues:


Public Interest

Agenda item: Draft Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines (TISG)

An Agency official presented an overview of the TISG and invited the Committee to provide comments on the draft version, particularly with respect to engagement, establishing baselines on Indigenous Rights and effects to Indigenous people (section 19).

Members discussed the following issues:

Engagement timelines

Community/Federal Responsibilities

Agenda item: Member’s Interests and Planning for Forward Agenda

Indigenous Advisory Committee

Action Items from July 18-19 Meeting

Secretariat Action Items:

Members’ Action-items:



Elmer Ghostkeeper
Sue Chiblow

Committee Members

Rachel Olson
Stanley Oliver
Suzie O’Bomsawin
Kyle Vermette
Angel Ransom
Deana Sappier
Paul Jones
Melody Lepine


Jocelyn Gosselin

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

Ron Hallman
Brent Parker
Susan Winger
Steve Chapman
Miriam Podalsky
Erin Groulx
Janice Zeitz
Emily Fairbairn
Alana Green

Interdepartmental Task Team on the Environmental and Regulatory Reviews

Allan Clarke

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