Board Profile - Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature


CMN’s mandate is “to increase, throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge of and appreciation and respect for the natural world.” It fulfills this mandate “by establishing, maintaining and developing for research and posterity, a collection of natural history objects, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, and by demonstrating the natural world, the knowledge derived from it and the understanding it represents”.

CMN’s public policy purpose is to contribute to greater understanding, sharing and protection of Canadian natural heritage and identity through its superb collections, associated research and related exhibitions and programmes, and with its human resource of scientific, programming and administrative staff.

Roles and Responsibilities of Trustees

Trustees shall respect the confidentiality of information of the Corporation and shall exercise prudent discretion in all matters respecting the Corporation. Trustees are responsible to gain an understanding and level of knowledge of the affairs in which the Corporation is engaged. In addition, Trustees should be prepared to exercise a stewardship role of the Corporation, establishing and contributing to a good working relationship with management and regularly assessing the performance of the CEO and the Board. More specifically, the Board is responsible for corporate governance of the Corporation including:

  • Strategic leadership
  • Integrity and ethical leadership
  • Determining Trustee skill sets
  • Board succession planning
  • Identifying corporate and public policy objectives
  • Prioritizing corporate objectives
  • Ensuring financial performance
  • Approving and reviewing major financial decisions
  • Approving developed position descriptions for Board members, CEO, Chair, Committee members and Committee Chairs
  • CEO performance evaluation
  • Ensuring principal risks have been identified
  • Ensuring implementation of appropriate systems to manage risks

Challenges, Issues, Indicators

CMN is in the process of developing a new five-year plan to achieve the strategic vision of the institution in 2013. The Museum’s focus for the foreseeable future will be renewal and refit of the Victoria Memorial Museum Building, the Natural Partnerships Campaign and the continuing work to achieve an enhanced level of national service through networks and joint ventures and in partnership with the Museum, scientific and other communities across Canada and beyond. The Museum also works concertedly with the corporate community and other private sector partners in order to enhance and expand the Museum’s program and resource base. Achieving a solution to the structural financial challenges of CMN is also critical to the future of the institution.

The Board has completed a review of its governance system and has implemented the recommendations resulting from the review. The Board participates in an annual assessment process which aids in the identification of the skills required to ensure continuing Board effectiveness.

Core Attributes

The selection and renewal of Trustees should be considered in light of an individual possessing the following attributes. These are set out as follows. Each Trustee should possess all of the core attributes shown.

  • Leadership
  • Vision
  • Self-confidence
  • Commitment
  • Integrity
  • Flexibility
  • Entrepreneurial Skills
  • Sound Judgment
  • Initiative
  • Honesty

Specific Knowledge and Experience

The following is the list of skills and knowledge identified from the gap analysis in order of importance.
  • Financial expertise
  • Fund-Raising and Development
  • Relationships with key stakeholders
  • Life Sciences
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Working Conditions

Trustees are expected to regularly attend meetings of the Board and of any Board Committee to which the Trustee has been appointed. There are approximately four (4) Board meetings each year and travel is required. The Corporate office of the CMN is in Ottawa and the majority of Board meetings are held in Ottawa, Ontario. Meeting materials are provided in advance of the meeting and Trustees are required to review such material and prepare accordingly. The basic time commitment for a Trustee is twenty (20) days per year; this includes the time for participating on one or more Board Committee. There is on-going training in keeping current with public policy and regulatory context of Crown corporations. Additional time would be required if the trustees served on more than one committee. The time commitment is outlined in the table below.

Type of meeting Meeting time (days) Preparatory time (days) Travel time (days) Total days per annum
As required
Ad Hoc