Key risks 2018 to 2019

Key risks: things that could affect our ability to achieve our plans and results

The risks to which CIRNAC was exposed in 2018–19 were driven primarily by the complex changes that characterize its strategic agenda. The ambitious reconciliation agenda that was taking place against the backdrop of increased expectations involved a range of interconnected legislative, policy, structural and financial changes. The development of these new directions — many of which were interconnected and co-developed with Indigenous partners — brought considerable opportunity as well as a number of strategic and operational risks. Key to addressing these risks were conducting risk assessments and implementing risk mitigation plans at the corporate, sector, region, and project levels.

Following the announcement of the creation of CIRNAC as a new department, a risk assessment of the department’s transformation risks was conducted. This point-in-time analysis was intended to assist in the planning for the next phase of the transition and transformation project. Throughout the year, a number of the risks identified in the assessment were attended to by specific risk mitigation actions including: an interim plan, active communication with employees, establishment of working groups, the creation of a joint (CIRNAC/ISC) transformation committee, and the development of initial agreements for internal services with other departments.

The outcome of these measures were more informed and engaged employees and stakeholders on the direction of the department as well as the implementation of internal mechanisms to address the new transition requirements of the internal and external services of the department.

The tables below outline the department's most significant external risks (Indigenous relationship risk, Environmental risk and Legal risk) and the status of the key mitigating strategies undertaken in 2018–19.

Indigenous Relationship Risk

There is a risk that the department will not renew and sustain strong, productive and respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples, communities, organizations and governments to help fulfill its mandate. To mitigate this risk, in 2018–19, CIRNAC:

Mitigating Strategy and Effectiveness Link to the Department’s Core Responsibilities Link to mandate letter(s), government-wide and departmental priorities
  • Continued to support the Permanent Bilateral Mechanisms with the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the 4 Inuit Nunagat Regions to make progress in addressing key social, economic, cultural, and environmental issues. The resulting Permanent Bilateral Mechanisms meetings helped:
    • renew Inuit-Crown relations through the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee. The Arctic and Northern Policy Framework was a discussion item at the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee Leaders’ Meeting on November 29, 2018.
    • leverage results on a number of challenges facing Indigenous peoples, e.g., advancing Inuit and Métis specific approaches to housing within Inuit Nunangat and in Métis Nation communities.
  • Held over 100 engagement sessions with approximately 1,700 First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to hear community perspectives regarding the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights. CIRNAC was also involved in 142 active negotiations with Indigenous communities across the country to explore new ways of working together.
  • Engaged with Self-Governing Indigenous governments in the Collaborative Self-Government Fiscal Policy Development Process, to develop a new policy framework for the provision of federal financial support to self-government.
  • Provided guidance, advice and training to other government departments, leading the Government of Canada’s commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
  • Worked with Indigenous Representative Organizations such as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak — Women of the Métis Nation, Pauktuutit Inuit Women, and their affiliates to establish a renewed relationship. These organizations received funding from CIRNAC to undertake policy work, provide advice to the government and increase capacity.
  • Co-developed Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework ("the Framework") with First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
    • Held 7 engagement sessions with Indigenous organizations to discuss the draft. There were 3 additional meetings held with Indigenous organizations alongside other northern partners and stakeholders to inform its development.
    • Indigenous partners will play an ongoing and meaningful role in the co-development of an approach to the implementation and governance of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework. Indigenous partners are contributing their own chapters to the framework to express their priorities and aspirations. These chapters will inform federal initiatives and policies.
    • Engagements on review and validation of the draft framework held in January and February 2019 were considered effective mitigating strategies in ensuring that strong, productive and respectful relationships with Indigenous partners were maintained. Ongoing commitment to co-development, particularly in relation to governance and implementation, were singled out as priorities by Indigenous partners.
Rights and Self Determination

Community and Regional Development
Support the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the establishment of a National Council for Reconciliation

Lead whole of government approach to renewal of nation-to-nation relationship

Increase the number of modern treaties and new self-government agreements

Launch the engagement strategy for a National Reconciliation Framework

Lead further work to address the number of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls

Review of laws, policies and practices

Establish a new fiscal relationship

Lead Government of Canada work in the North, including Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework and shared Arctic leadership model

Environmental Risk

There is a risk that the department will be unable to manage environmental issues and liabilities in a timely and cost-effective manner. To mitigate this risk, in 2018–19, CIRNAC:

Mitigating Strategy and Effectiveness Link to the Department’s Core Responsibilities Link to mandate letter(s), government-wide and departmental priorities
  • Conducted an initial review of the departmental policy framework for environmental protection and reclamation for mines to identify areas where further analysis is required. Further work is underway to examine those areas that need to be addressed.
  • Conducted approximately 145 inspections for authorizations issued under various territorial and Nunavut related acts. This includes quarterly inspections of active mine sites, 25 community water licenses, and fuel spill response. The department also completed 77 field inspections and responded to 18 spills in the Northwest Territories.
  • In collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada, the department:
    • met with 14 First Nations regional organizations to confirm interest on co-developing options for addressing regulatory and capacity gaps in environmental protection on reserve. Most organizations were eager to improve environmental protection on reserve and wish to conduct regional planning sessions with their communities for the next phase of engagement.
    • worked to maximize funding available through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan to support continued assessment and remediation of contaminated sites.
  • Funded the First Nations Waste Management Initiative launched in 2016 and $3.9 million dollars in renewable energy, energy efficiency and capacity building projects to reduce diesel fuel use in northern communities. 36 renewable energy projects were implemented in 22 communities.
  • Continued to implement climate change adaptation initiatives such as First Nation Adapt, Climate Change Preparedness in the North, and the Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring program.
  • Delivered in partnership with Indigenous organizations the Land Use Planning Initiative, which invested more than $8.9 million to build governance and land management capacity, and promote sustainable First Nations community development.
  • Undertook management and remediation activities at 60 high priority contaminated sites in the North using the National Classification System for Contaminated Sites and ensured these sites are managed to reduce risk to human and environmental health and safety for all Northerners through site assessments, care and maintenance, remediation and monitoring.
    • Held engagement events across the 3 territories to ensure that community perspectives from Indigenous and northern communities were considered in the planning and remediation phases of contaminated sites remediation projects.
  • Bill C-88, an Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.
    • the Bill seeks to repeal provisions which would amalgamate the regional land and water boards of the Mackenzie Valley into 1 valley-wide board; to bring into force provisions that have been delayed by an injunction; and, to provide the Governor in Council an order-making power to prohibit any interest holder or any other person from commencing or continuing any work or activity authorized under the Canada Petroleum Resources Act in the frontier if it is deemed in the national interest to do so.
Community and Regional Development Ensure that environmental assessment legislation is amended to enhance the consultation, engagement and participatory capacity of Indigenous groups

Implement the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change and support northern communities confronting immediate climate adaption challenges

Lead Government of Canada work in the North, including Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework and shared Arctic leadership model

Legal Risk

There is a risk that the department will be unable to effectively plan for or respond to legal risks that affect department operations. To mitigate this risk, in 2018–19, CIRNAC:

Mitigating Strategy and Effectiveness Link to the Department’s Core Responsibilities Link to mandate letter(s), government-wide and departmental priorities
  • Continued to work with Justice Canada, other federal government departments, provinces, territories, Indigenous groups and implicated stakeholders to explore interests and options to resolve litigation through out-of-court settlements, where possible.
  • Continued to develop, in close consultation with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, a Nunavut-specific Procurement Directive as per Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
  • Used a new flexible negotiating process — initially advanced through the Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination tables and now extending to all negotiation tables — which are providing a means of advancing cooperative dispute resolution processes.
  • Reviewed litigation management in the department, assisted by the adoption of The Attorney General of Canada’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples.
    • issued litigation hold letters as required to preserve and facilitate the collection of modern documents.
    • upgraded the Ringtail document management and electronic processing software to facilitate better document processing.
  • Signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CIRNAC and Justice Canada, which:
    • allowed sectors and Justice Canada to assess and discuss service needs, such as ensure compliance in authorities and risk management practices in department programs and forecasting of advisory and litigation services.
    • ensured that contingency planning was undertaken from a legal and departmental perspective.
  • Appealed, where appropriate, decisions to the right level of court. Advised by Justice Canada, CIRNAC considered risks such as legal, policy, program, financial and reputational risks when determining whether or not to appeal decisions. In 2018–19, the department did not identify any decisions warranting an appeal.
  • Supported other government departments in meeting the Government of Canada’s duty to consult, and also provided tools such as the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Information System, and training to federal officials.
  • Supported the negotiation and implementation of consultation protocols with First Nations and Métis groups and communities.
  • Shared best practices, lessons learned and advice on upcoming consultation processes with other government departments through interdepartmental networks on consultation, in the regions as well as in the NCR.
  • Received information on court decisions associated with the department. The internal communication of court decisions, summaries and analysis of impacts to sectors, ensured that approaches to litigation and legal risk, conformed to departmental policies and programs.
Rights and Self Determination

Community and Regional Development
Review of laws, policies and practices

Work to ensure that dispute resolution mechanisms and litigation are consistent with the resolution of past wrongs, promote cooperation and move towards a recognition of rights approach

Update elements of the treaty relationship to ensure consistency with a recognition of rights approach
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