Indigenous Capacity Support Program - National Program Guidelines

January 29, 2024


These guidelines are intended for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for the Impact Assessment Act (IAA) or any of its regulations. In the event of any inconsistency between these guidelines and the IAA or its regulations, the IAA or regulations prevail.

To ensure that you have the most up-to-date versions of the IAA and its regulations, please consult the Department of Justice website.


This document may be reviewed and updated periodically. To ensure that you have the most up-to-date version, please consult the Funding Programs page of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada’s website.


© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 2021.

This publication may be reproduced for personal or internal use without permission, provided the source is fully acknowledged. However, multiple copy reproduction of this publication, in whole or in part, for purposes of distribution requires prior written permission. To obtain written permission, contact the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada at

Catalogue No.: En106-231/2020E-PDF

ISBN: 978-0-660-34910-7

This document has been issued in French under the title:
Programme de soutien aux capacités des autochtones—Lignes directrices nationales du Programme

Table of Contents


The Government of Canada has a legal duty to consult with Indigenous peoples when it contemplates conduct that might adversely impact potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. In addition to the common law duty to consult, the Government of Canada consults with Indigenous peoples for statutory reasons and for sound policy development and decision-making. The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) is well-positioned to foster linkages between the impact assessment process and Indigenous consultation processes to enhance overall process efficiencies and contribute to informed federal decision-making.

The Government of Canada wants to ensure that:

The Indigenous Capacity Support Program (the Program) is one of four components of the Agency’s Funding Framework. Under this Program, short-term funding is available outside of specific project assessments to support community understanding of environmental assessment (EA) and impact assessment (IA) processes and related issues. The aim is to help communities meaningfully participate in EA/IA processes. This work would be aligned with the work of other federal departments with similar capacity building programs. In those cases, consultations would take place before approving any funding to ensure there is no duplication of work, and to maximize the benefits of funding with similar recipients and outcomes.

Program Objective

The overall objective of the Program is to support the development of local and regional capacity in order to promote meaningful participation and leadership of Indigenous peoples in project EAs/IAs, regional and strategic assessments, and EA/IA follow-up activities. To support this objective, financial assistance is provided outside the context of specific project assessments, including regional assessments or strategic studies, to Indigenous communities or organizations with high-quality proposals to carry out capacity-building activities.

The anticipated outcomes of the Program include:


Eligible recipients include Indigenous communities and Indigenous organizations.

Eligible activities include:

The Agency may establish priorities for funding. If so, it will outline the strategic priorities or priority activities in the announcements of funding availability.

Application process

Stream 1—Program Partners

Under this stream, capacity support programming will be delivered through the establishment of long-term partnerships with Indigenous organizations or communities to provide support to a number of members or communities in a region where project activity is anticipated and/or taking place. Funding under this stream would support the activities of Program Partners to increase capacity for members or communities served.

Steps to Apply for Funding

1. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI): The applicant must first provide the Agency with an EOI that demonstrates how their proposed initiative(s) meets the objectives and criteria of the Program. It must contain information to determine eligibility as well as any information required to assess the applicant and/or the initiative(s) against the Program assessment criteria. Multi-year initiatives will be considered.

EOI’s must contain, at a minimum:

The EOI must also address any specific criteria listed on the Program webpage.

There is no template for an EOI, however these should be submitted in Word or PDF format.

EOIs that clearly meet the criteria and priorities outlined in the announcement will be assessed. Representatives from the Agency will work with the applicant to develop a detailed proposal, which should include:

NOTE: Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Indigenous Partnerships Division ( prior to submitting an EOI, in order to confirm eligibility and availability of funding.

Stream 2—Community of Practice Events

The Program may support community of practice conferences at the national or regional level. The Agency will work closely with national or regional Indigenous organizations or collectives to plan and hold a 1-2 day national or regional community of practice conference, where expertise and best practices can be shared, and can be used to identify potential Program priorities going forward. It may be attended by the Agency and could include opportunities to present on new policies or training.

There is no specific form for applicants to complete, but a proposal must include:

NOTE: Potential applicants are encouraged to contact prior to submitting a proposal.

Stream 3—Strategic Opportunities

This stream of funding will provide financial support to strategically respond to Indigenous capacity needs in areas where natural resource development is anticipated and/or taking place and where Program Partnerships cannot be established or do not address the unique needs of individual Indigenous communities. Funding under this stream may also provide additional funds to specific communities that have been identified as having low capacity and/or proposing special projects to address specific features of the Impact Assessment Act.

A range of approaches to administering this Stream may be employed. This can include targeted or open processes for identifying funding opportunities, or both.

In the case of a targeted process, the Agency will engage its regional staff and other organizational units as necessary in order to identify candidates for this funding stream. Agency representatives will contact candidates directly and clarify the application process and requirements.

In the case of an open process, the Agency will organize and lead the call for proposals, which may include specific, targeted criteria. The call for proposals, specific criteria, and application process will be indicated on the Agency’s website.

Should Indigenous communities or organizations require funding outside of the formal funding application period, please contact the Indigenous Partnerships Division, subject to funding availability.

Assessment process

Stream 1—Program Partners

The following steps are used to assess applicants for Program Partner funding:

1. Assessment of EOI: Representatives from the Indigenous Partnerships Division will work with the applicant to address any information gaps in the EOI. A Funding Review Committee reviews the completed EOI to ensure alignment with the criteria and priorities of this Program. The Funding Review Committee will then make recommendations on whether the applicant will be invited to collaborate with the Agency on a detailed proposal.

2. Assessment of detailed proposal: Agency officials review the proposal for completeness and, if required, may request additional information or modifications to the detailed proposal.

3. Funding recommendation: Based on the analysis undertaken by the Funding Review Committee and the successful completion of a detailed proposal, a recommendation is made as to whether funding should be allocated to the identified applicant. If the Funding Review Committee recommends an applicant for funding, it will also recommend an appropriate funding amount to a Vice-President of the Agency, or delegate, who will make the final determination on funding allocation.

Assessment criteria include:

The following activities will be prioritized for funding:

Stream 2—Community of Practice Events

1. Assessment of Proposed Event: Representatives from the Indigenous Partnerships Division will ensure the applicant is eligible and the proposed event aligns with the priorities and objectives of the Program.

2. Application review and Evaluation: A Funding Review Committee will assess eligible applications on a first come, first served basis, and will be subject to the availability of funds.

3. Funding recommendation: Based on the analysis undertaken by the Funding Review Committee, a recommendation is made as to whether funding should be allocated to the identified applicant. If the committee recommends an applicant for funding, it will also recommend an appropriate amount to the a Vice-President of the Agency or delegate, who will make the final determination on funding allocation.

All eligible activities of the Program will be considered for funding under this stream if they are associated with the planning, organization, hosting, and reporting of a national or regional community of practice event.

The Agency will collaborate with successful applicants to Stream 2 to develop the agenda, materials, invitation list, and outreach for the event.

Stream 3—Strategic Opportunities

Agency representatives will seek proposals from Indigenous communities or organizations either directly through a targeted process, or in an open process posted on the Agency’s website. The assessment of proposals will be carried out as follows:

1. Assessment of the proposed activities: Representatives from the Indigenous Partnerships Division will ensure the applicant is eligible and the proposed activities align with the objectives of this Program.

2. Application review and Evaluation: A Funding Review Committee will assess eligible applications subject to the availability of funds under this funding stream.

3. Funding recommendation: Based on the analysis undertaken by the Funding Review Committee, a recommendation is made as to whether funding should be allocated to the identified applicant. If the committee recommends an applicant for funding, it will also recommend an appropriate amount to a Vice-President of the Agency or delegate, who will make the final determination on funding allocation.


In determining the amount of funding available for capacity-building activities, the following factors will be considered:

In addition, the Agency will apply any priority criteria that may be included on the Program’s webpage.

Eligible Costs

The following expenses are eligible for funding under all streams of the Program:

To qualify for reimbursement, all costs must be attributed to these expense categories and must directly contribute to activities described in the approved work plan as outlined in the Schedule to the Master Contribution Agreement.

Ineligible Costs

Ineligible expenses include capital expenditures, costs for construction, lost income and renovation of buildings.

The Funding Programs will not fund activities that duplicate services, studies or written materials that other public or private sources are already funding.

The Agency may approve different funding levels on a case-by-case basis and will take into consideration the budget available, the complexity of the activities proposed, as well as how many Indigenous groups and peoples would benefit from the activities.

The Agency’s Funding Programs have a "stacking limit," that is, a maximum permitted amount of combined funding from federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments for participation in any one project, engagement activities or associated Crown consultation activities. Combined funding from governments to a recipient for participation in a project, engagement activities or Crown consultation activities cannot exceed 100% of eligible costs. The Agency uses the information provided by a recipient in the application and in the Detailed Financial Reports to verify that a recipient’s funding request and Detailed Financial Report conforms to this stacking limit. If the stacking limit is exceeded, the Agency will adjust its level of contribution, and if necessary, seek reimbursement so that the staking limit is not exceeded. A paragraph regarding the stacking limit forms part of the Agreement with a recipient.

Funding Decision

The President or Vice-President of the Agency, or their delegate, makes the final decision on the funding allocations. The decision is based on the review of the Funding Review Committee’s report and recommendations, as well as any additional considerations identified by the Agency and outlined in the announcement of funding availability.

Some applicants may not receive funding and others may be approved for less than the amount they requested.

The Agency notifies applicants of the funding decision. The successful applicants’ names and approved funding allocation amounts are made public on the Government of Canada website as part of its transparency efforts.

Master Contribution Agreement and Schedules

When the Agency approves funding, the Agency will contact the applicant to finalize a Master Contribution Agreement and a Schedule. A Master Contribution Agreement is a detailed contract between the Agency and a recipient and which identifies the conditions and obligations for all signatories for any project or engagement initiative by the Agency. The Master Contribution Agreement is designed to be in effect for a period of ten (10) years.

Schedules to the Master Contribution Agreement reflect the work plan and budget breakdown for the specific project/engagement activity approved for funding.

Expenses incurred can only be reimbursed after both the recipient and the Agency sign a Schedule to a Master Contribution.

The Schedule to the Master Contribution Agreement:

As funding requests are based on estimations, an adjustment of up to 20 percent of funds (within expense categories) may be allowed. The recipient must submit a written request (email is sufficient) with a justification explaining why the recipient needs to modify the original eligible expenditures that were approved as part of the Schedule to the Master Contribution Agreement. The Agency must approve the request, and the total amount claimed must remain within the level of funding originally approved.

The Agency reserves the right to undertake, or have undertaken, a financial audit of the accounts and resources of the recipient to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Master Contribution Agreement and associated Schedule(s).

Reporting Requirements

Contribution agreements will require annual and final narrative reports related to Program recipients’ initiatives. These reports must provide a description of the recipient’s progress towards the objectives and deliverables contained in its approved proposal. The Agency will identify any issues in the reports that indicate the objectives or deliverables may not be met, and work with those recipients to address these issues.

Direct Deposit

The Government of Canada has switched from cheques to direct deposit, an electronic transfer of funds deposited directly into the recipient’s bank account. For more information on direct deposit, visit your bank or financial institution, or call toll-free at 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232). You can also find more information, including a short informative video, on the Government of Canada website.

If you currently have a bank account or qualify to open a bank account, you are encouraged to enroll by completing the Recipient Registration and Electronic Payment Request Form and returning it to the Agency in one of the following ways:


Funding Programs
Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H3


The Schedule to the Contribution Agreement includes conditions of payment. A Detailed Financial Report form can be downloaded from the Agency’s website.


Payments can be made in advance and may be subject to hold-back provisions. Advance payments may be provided to recipients where they have demonstrated a cash flow requirement for funding to be provided prior to incurring eligible expenditures and if approved by the Agency. Where advance payments are provided, recipients will be required to report on the use of the advance in order to ensure that advance payments are being spent for authorized purposes and that unexpended balances are reasonable.

Percentages of advances provided to recipients vary, and may be provided to the recipient based on an approved work plan and at the Agency’s discretion.


The Agency will approve payments based on:

Beyond payments that will be made on the basis of performance, there may be exceptional circumstances when advanced payments may be provided to recipients. For this, recipients must demonstrate a cash-flow requirement for funding, and this needs to be provided to the Funding Programs prior to incurring eligible expenditures. Where a payment is based on a claim for eligible costs incurred, each claim is to be accompanied by a brief report of the work completed and details of all eligible costs being claimed. The claims must also be substantiated by documents that are considered satisfactory by the responsible Manager.

The responsible Funding Manager may hold back a portion of any payment under a contribution funding arrangement when deemed appropriate. This is based on the risk of non-performance or overpayment.


The Agency will process the final payment only after the responsible Funding Manager is satisfied that the recipient has met all the requirements of the contribution agreement, and on receipt of acceptance of a final report(s) and financial statement(s).

Contact Information

Visit the Agency’s website for contact information.

You can also write/email:

Indigenous Partnerships Division
Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H3

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