Board Profile - Canadian Museum of History

Canadian Museum of History

Corporation Mandate

The Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC) is a Crown Corporation established by the Museums Act (Statutes of Canada 1990, Chapter 3). The Corporation's primary responsibilities are the management of Canada's national museum of human history, the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC), Canada's national museum of military heritage, the Canadian War Museum (CWM), and a virtual museum on the Web, the Museum of New France (VMNF).

The Museums Act begins with this declaration in section 3:

[T]he heritage of Canada and all its peoples is an important part of the world heritage and must be preserved for present and future generations and that each national museum established by this Act (a) plays an essential role, individually and together with other museums and like institutions, preserving and promoting the heritage of Canada and all its peoples throughout Canada and abroad and in contributing to the collective memory and sense of identity of all Canadians; and (b) is a source of inspiration, research, learning and entertainment that belongs to all Canadians and provides, in both official languages, a service that is essential to Canadian culture and available to all.

The Act in section 8 states the purpose of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation as,

…to increase, throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge and critical understanding of and appreciation and respect for human cultural achievements and human behaviour by establishing, maintaining and developing for research and posterity a collection of objects of historical or cultural interest, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, and by demonstrating those achievements and behaviour, the knowledge derived from them and the understanding they represent.

The Act also states that CMC shall include the Canadian War Museum.

Roles and Responsibilities

The CMCC’s Board of Trustees serves as its governing body and is accountable to Parliament, through the Minister of Canadian Heritage, for the stewardship of the Museum. The 11 members of the Board, from across Canada, are appointed by the Governor-in-Council on the advice of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The Board of Trustees of the Corporation provides broad strategic direction and oversight with the assistance of 6 committees: Executive, Audit, Development, Finance, Governance, and the Canadian War Museum Committee.

The Board holds management accountable for the day-to-day administration of the Museums’ performance, long-term viability and the achievement of objectives. It delegates authority for the day-to-day management of the Corporation to the CMCC President and Chief Executive Officer. The President and CEO is supported by an Executive Management team.

Generally, the Board of Trustees assumes its stewardship responsibility, including its responsibility to:

  • Appoint the President and CEO of the corporation, with the approval of the Governor in Council, assess the CEO’s performance and make recommendations with respect to compensation;
  • Adopt the broad strategic direction that takes into account opportunities and risks of the corporation;
  • Approve the annual Corporate Plan and the Annual Report;
  • Monitor corporate performance of the Corporate Plan against strategic direction;
  • Identify principal risks of the business and ensure that appropriate systems are put in place to manage those risks;
  • Make by-laws for the administration, management and control of the property, business, activities and affairs of the Corporation;
  • Ensure the integrity of internal control, including the approval of the audit plans of the corporation, and provision of management information;
  • Approve contract or donation transactions of $500,000 or more;
  • Approve de-accessions from the CMCC’s collections;
  • Develop an approach to corporate governance that includes governance principles, and guidelines specific to the CMCC;
  • Make recommendations to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages regarding appointments to the Board of Trustees; and
  • Assess its own performance.

Challenges, Issues and Initiatives

In June 2009, the CMCC’s Board of Trustees approved Strategic Directions to shift priorities and emphasis, promote innovation and broaden the scope of activities. These Directions are:

  1. Museological Excellence and Relevance – The CMCC will broaden its national collections and its curatorial research to better reflect and present national narratives, symbols and achievements through the social, cultural, human, military and political history dimensions of Canadian life.
  2. Bringing the Museums to Canadians – The CMCC will expand its efforts to become better known, more accessible and increasingly relevant across the country and internationally, through innovative and engaging museum initiatives and outreach programs.
  3. Focus on Results – The CMCC will continue its disciplined managerial practices, while also being flexible and responsive to changing conditions. Staff will develop tools and procedures to enable more effective reporting on activities and outcomes.
  4. Funding and Fundraising – The CMCC will seek to increase its financial resources through a variety of supplementary funding sources, notably business sponsorships, partnerships, philanthropy solicited in all regions of the country, and commercial revenues.

In addition to these Strategic Directions, the CMCC faces some significant challenges. Chief among them are the ongoing turmoil in the Canadian and global economies which could seriously diminish revenues and the escalation of non-discretionary costs such as municipal taxes, utilities, and contracted services together with reduced Government funding. Also noteworthy is the pressing need for capital repairs, especially to the ageing CMC building now in its 21st year of operation. The Corporation continues to work with Treasury Board and the Department of Canadian Heritage to seek a long-term solution and take further actions on its own in hopes of addressing these crucial financial challenges.

The Corporation and its Museums' overall goal will be to strive to enhance their value to Canadians while maintaining public confidence in their management of public funds and their stewardship of the national treasures entrusted to their care.

Core Attributes, Competencies and Experience

The following core attributes, competencies and experiences have been identified for Trustees of the Corporation:

1. Knowledge

Broad knowledge of heritage, cultural or history issues

Some combination of the following:

  • involvement professionally in teaching or research
  • involvement in local, regional or national activities of a recognized professional caliber
  • involvement in issues relevant to the mandate of a national social history museum
  • a record of publications or public speaking

2. Skills

Recognized professional accreditation in designated skill sets (e.g., law, accountancy or education), or current employment in relevant profession

If retired, demonstrable on-going connection to previous field of employment

If volunteer, focus on activities as described in next section

3. Informed Judgement and Commitment

Ability to provide thoughtful counsel, to analyze, ask relevant questions at the strategic level, consider different stakeholders’ perspectives, understand situations and challenges

Priority to devote sufficient time to participate in meetings, teleconferences

Ability to envisage relationships between institutions and broader social goals

Ability to assess management performance and relate this to established goals

4. Integrity and Accountability

High ethical standards and integrity

Willingness to act on and remain accountable for board decisions, meeting the accountabilities outlined in the law, by-laws and rules of the board

Seeing oneself as serving the interests of Canadians

5. Impact and Influence

Awareness of the impact of organizational issues, policies and decisions on public interest and concern

Capacity to be sensitive to the differing needs and agendas of multiple stakeholders and to act to convince or influence others in order to have a specific impact or effect

6. Voluntarism

Clear record of high responsibility and initiative or leadership in volunteer activities related to heritage, culture or Canadian identity

7. Financial Literacy

Ability to read and understand financial statements

Specific Skills, Knowledge and Experience

The required skills mix of the Board of Trustees is drawn from the mandate of the CMCC to operate as national museums of social, military and human history. It should provide the professional expertise to strengthen the strategic direction of the CMCC.

A balance of Board experience in the following areas is desirable: communications, fundraising, strategic planning, public policy, government relations, legal practice, accounting and administration. Professional areas should include: links with professional associations, experience in public and private sectors, representation from a specific discipline.

Candidates should include:

  • an historian
  • an educator / teacher / academic
  • a representative of First Peoples
  • an accountant
  • a lawyer
  • a person with military or Armed Forces’ background
  • a person with business experience
  • a person with knowledge of Communications
  • a person with experience in major Canadian cultural activity
  • a person with audit experience
  • a person with fundraising experience


The Board should be representative of Canada’s regions, linguistic duality, cultural diversity and genders.

Working Conditions

The Board meets three times per year in Ottawa/Gatineau, and one additional time in another Canadian city determined on an annual basis. Members are expected to attend each Board meeting and to be available for conference calls when required. The average annual time commitment is two weeks.

Board meetings are conducted in both Official Languages according to the preference of the person speaking.

Trustees are entitled to be remunerated at rates which are set by the Governor-in-Council. This remuneration consists of a per diem amount and an annual retainer. Trustees are entitled to be reimbursed reasonable travel and living expenses consistent with the guidelines established by the Board, incurred in connection with attendance at a meeting of the Board or of a committee or while on the business of the Museum.