Terms of Reference
On August 28, 2019, the Impact Assessment Act came into force. The Indigenous Advisory Committee was formed shortly prior to the coming into force and therefore did not play any role in advising on the content of the legislation.
The Indigenous Advisory Committee is a new structure through which First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples will provide advice for the development of key policies and guidance to help ensure that the unique rights, interests and perspectives of Indigenous peoples are acknowledged, affirmed and implemented in environmental and impact assessment.
The mandate of the Committee will be to provide the Agency with non-political advice reflecting the interests and concerns of the Indigenous peoples of Canada for the development of key policy and guidance. The Committee will also be asked to advise on approaches for collaboration and engagement with Indigenous peoples on policy and guidance products.
The Committee’s mandate is distinct from that of the Technical Advisory Committee on Science and Knowledge.
The Committee will operate in an open and transparent manner, with final records of proceedings and committee reports made publicly available on the Agency’s website, subject to confidentiality requirements under legislation or governmental policies.
The Agency will provide orientation to new members so that they can learn about the mandate of the Agency, applicable processes, and roles and responsibilities of Committee members. The Agency will also provide a secretariat to support the administration of the Committee.
Membership Selection and Nomination Process
Membership for the Indigenous Advisory Committee will include First Nations, Métis and Inuit individual. Members of the Committee will serve as knowledgeable individuals in their own right and in their personal capacity in the best interests of Canadians. Membership is not based on representation of a particular nation, community, or organization and Members do not propose to represent on the Committee any particular Indigenous nation, society, traditional order, or clan, nor any Indigenous or non‐Indigenous organization, employer, profession or constituency; nor receive instruction from any person external to the Committee in order to inform their advice.
The Terms of Reference, the advice and all the work product of the Indigenous Advisory Committee do not fulfill or replace the obligations of the Crown or other parties to any Indigenous communities, nor do they affect protocols created by Indigenous Peoples for engaging government, industry or others, or for gathering, documenting, management or sharing Indigenous knowledge.
The Committee is composed of members who have expertise in fields relevant to the Committee’s mandate. Two members will act as the co-chairs. Membership may be adjusted to ensure the appropriate representation of expertise and experience. Ad hoc members will also be appointed by the Agency.
The Agency’s Director General, Strategic Policy or the designated representative of the Director General will participate in Committee meetings as an ex-officio member to represent the Agency, but will not be a member of the Committee. The main roles of the ex-officio member are to work with the appointed co-chairs on the Committee’s forward agenda and in facilitating meetings as well as to act as a liaison between the Committee and the Agency, identifying and setting expectations around confidential discussions and information and ensuring that the information and advice provided by the Committee is shared within the Agency.
Invited Guests and Sub-committees
Guests can be invited to participate in the Committee or a sub-committee when additional or specific expertise is required. The secretariat may invite guests to attend particular meetings or join the Committee or sub-committee for a defined time period. If deemed required, the Agency will allow the creation of sub-committees involving both Committee members and invited guests, based on the Committee’s advice.
Conflict of Interest
To be considered for appointment, potential members of the Committee are required to complete a conflict of interest disclosure form provided by the Agency. The completed declaration will be considered confidential and the Agency will not disclose any information in the declaration without the member's permission or otherwise required by the Privacy Act or the Access to Information Act.
Should their personal situation change, it is incumbent upon the member to update all information, including their disclosure of conflict of interests, in writing. The Committee’s secretariat will review reports prior to appointment, on an ongoing basis, and as updates occur.
Members are encouraged to provide their short biography and a photo to publish on the Agency’s website to enhance the Committee’s visibility to the public.
Members are expected to provide advice exclusively in their personal capacity; the use of their positions cannot be reasonably construed to be for their private gain or that of any other person, company, or organization. Members are required to avoid real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest and are expected to recuse themselves on issues where necessary.
Code of Ethics
Members are also expected to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. For clarity, that means members must behave consistently with the principles/values of:
- good faith;
- mutual respect and honour;
- honesty; and
Travel and Expenses
An amount will be provided to all members to recognize their preparation for and participation in meetings. The Agency will also reimburse members’ approved travel expenses in accordance with relevant Government of Canada policies including the National Joint Council Travel Directive. The secretariat will supply members with a copy of the directive and provide assistance as needed.
Co-chairs and members are appointed by the Agency for two or three year terms. Members may be re-appointed for additional terms at the discretion of the Agency. The Agency will endeavor to ensure that appointments of co-chairs and members are staggered to allow for continuity and systematic rotation of membership while having the assigned term lengths reflect the preferences of the committee members to the extent possible.
Resignation and Replacement Process
Members should provide two weeks’ notice of their intent to resign. The resignation notice must be in writing and be addressed to the Agency. The letter should state the effective date of resignation.
Reasons for Termination
The Agency itself, or upon receipt of a recommendation from the Co-Chairs, shall terminate a member’s appointment for cause. A member's failure:
- to act according to the Terms of Reference, including the Code of Ethics;
- to avoid real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest; or
- to attend Committee meetings without satisfactory reason;
may give cause for termination.
Roles and Responsibilities
Members of the Committee have a responsibility to offer their independent and expert advice. Other responsibilities include:
- being available and prepared to participate in meetings, including in-person meetings, conference calls, videoconferences, etc.;
- participating in discussions before the Committee prepares its advice to the Agency; and
- notifying the secretariat and co-chairs of any changes in the status of their assets, liabilities and outside employment/activities relevant to the mandate of the Committee.
The two co-chairs of the Committee are selected and appointed by the Agency. In addition to all responsibilities of a member, the co-chairs are responsible for:
- overseeing and chairing meetings;
- facilitating discussions among Committee members;
- providing input on the Committee meeting agenda;
- coordinating the development of Committee reports and other deliverables as well as ensuring delivery of Committee input to the Agency;
- providing input to the secretariat on the selection of members, replacement and termination of appointments; and
- supporting, in any other way, the fulfillment of the Committee’s mandate.
The secretariat to the Committee is housed in the External Relations & Strategic Policy Sector of the Agency. The secretariat acts as the administrative liaison between Committee members and the Agency, and also as a resource for members. The secretariat provides advice on the management of the Committee and works closely with the co-chairs. In addition, the secretariat:
- coordinates the member appointment process;
- coordinates preparation of the meeting agendas, records of proceedings and reports;
- assists the appointed co-chairs with reports on specific topics;
- at the identification and request of the Committee, considers engaging contractors in the development of a specified work product;
- supports the Committee in organizing invited guests and sub-committees
- provides administrative support to Committee members;
- supports public access to information about the Committee, as appropriate;
- prepares information and conducts background research for the Committee;
- maintains a list of forward agenda items and nominees;
- organizes meeting logistics;
- monitors and evaluates the efficiency and effectiveness of the Committee; and
- carries out any additional duties, as appropriate, in support of the Committee.
The Director General, Strategic Policy Sector of the Agency will act as an ex-officio member of the Committee and a liaison between the Committee and the Agency. In this role, the Director General or their designated representative:
- acts as the Agency’s official with lead responsibility for the Committee, including decision making on Committee and secretariat administration and operation;
- works closely with the co-chairs on the Committee’s forward agenda and in facilitating and coordinating meetings;
- acts as a liaison between the Committee and the Agency, ensuring that the information and advice provided by the Committee is shared within the Agency;
- reports back to the Committee at the beginning of each meeting on next steps and, if applicable, the impact of the advice received; and
- identifies when information and discussions are considered confidential and clarifying expectations regarding this protected information.
The Director General or the designated representative does not participate in formulating the committee’s report and recommendations.
Management and Administration
The Agency is committed to transparency as an operating principle. All activities of the Committee are to be transparent with the exception of occasional confidential items that may arise.
All Committee members, consultants, guests and Agency secretariat support who may be in attendance at a Committee meeting or privy to Committee information, shall protect and keep confidential any information that is identified as confidential and is received through participation on the Committee, unless such information is approved by the Committee for public release.
To ensure that members speak freely during Committee meetings and with regard to the advice that they provide to the Agency, the Committee’s meeting records and Committee reports will be non-attributable.
Deliberations, Decision-making and Reports
Records of proceedings, highlighting the key discussions and decisions, will be prepared by the secretariat and circulated for review and final approval to the co-chairs and Director General, Strategic Policy Sector. Final records of proceedings will be posted on the Agency’s website.
Committee expertise may also be provided to the Agency in the form of a Committee report jointly developed by designated members of the Committee. Reports are non-attributable; there will be no references to comments made by individual members. Under circumstances where there are divergent views among Committee members on a topic, reports may be written such that they present each of the perspectives (i.e., the Committee is not obligated to reach consensus on all topics). However, the text of any Committee report that intends to express the collective advice of the Committee (including text expressing divergent views) shall be approved by way of consensus. Final Committee reports will be posted on the Agency’s website.
For clear and consistent messaging, members should direct media inquiries to the co-chairs. The co-chairs may also seek assistance from the Agency’s Communications team for engaging with the media. Members may speak about the Committee’s past and documented activities in their professional communities.
At least 50% of the members need to be present in order for a meeting to be held.
The Secretariat, in consultation with the co-chairs, prepares the meeting agenda.
Meeting Notice and Invitations
All meetings are scheduled at the call of the Director General Strategic Policy Sector in consultation with the co-chairs. Depending on the nature of topics to be discussed, the meeting may be open to observers and invited guests based on an understanding between the Agency and the co-chairs.
The secretariat is responsible for organizing, scheduling and circulating all meeting material. As a standard practice, barring exceptional circumstances, members will generally receive the agenda and background material in advance of the meeting. Presentations by members or others will be circulated in advance of the meeting, where feasible.
If a Committee member is unable to attend a meeting in person or via conference call, the meeting will be carried out in their absence without alternates in their place. At least 50% of the core members need to be present for the meeting to proceed. In the event that one co-chair is unable to attend, the other co-chair will chair the meeting. If both co-chairs are expected to be absent for a meeting, they will nominate one to two members to chair the meeting in their place.
Frequency, Type, and Location of Meetings
Meetings will generally be held three to four times a year in the National Capital Region or elsewhere on an occasional basis. Additional meetings and/or teleconferences may be held on an as-needed basis at the discretion of the Director General Strategic Policy Sector, in consultation with the co-chairs.
Depending on the nature of topics being discussed, individuals, organizations, or other government departments may observe a meeting or parts of a meeting. Observers do not provide input on agenda items and do not participate in the formulation of advice or recommendations to the Agency.
A limited number of federal employees may be permitted to observe a meeting of the Committee. Priority consideration will be given to those officials whose duties are of relevance to the mandate of the Committee.
Language of Work
Committee work will be performed in either official language in accordance with the Official Languages Act.
Agency’s Response to Committee Advice
The Agency will provide regular updates to the Members on how advice was used.
A formal review may be conducted periodically to determine whether administrative, management or other improvements are required to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the Committee. The review may be conducted by Agency officials or by an external body. A review report will be submitted to the Director General Strategic Policy Sector and may be shared with Committee members.
In addition, the Director General Strategic Policy Sector, in collaboration with the co-chairs and the secretariat, may review the mandate, activities and Terms of Reference as needed. Recommendations for improvement will be considered on an ongoing basis.
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