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COSEWIC Annual Report 2004

Appendix IV

19 March, 2004

 

Terms of Reference

COSEWIC

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee

(draft)


COSEWIC uses the best available scientific, Aboriginal traditional and community knowledge to assess species at risk. The Species at Risk Act (Section 18(1)) requires that COSEWIC establish an Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge subcommittee.

Purpose

The Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee (the ATK Subcommittee) facilitates access to the best available Aboriginal traditional knowledge and the incorporation of that knowledge into the COSEWIC species status assessment and classification processes.

Guiding Principles

The ATK Subcommittee is guided in carrying out its functions by the following principles. Subject to the terms of self-government and land claims agreements, Aboriginal communities are presumed to be the primary bodies to facilitate access to Aboriginal traditional knowledge in the assessment and classification of species at risk. Access is subject to local laws, protocols and practices. Permission to use Aboriginal traditional knowledge in the assessment and classification of species at risk must be secured from the holders of such knowledge. Aboriginal traditional knowledge used in the assessment and classification of species at risk is to be treated as public knowledge only with the approval of the holders of such knowledge. It is to be organized and presented in a culturally-appropriate, timely and thorough manner, and - to the extent possible - in such a way as to be comprehensible by both Aboriginal and non-aboriginal persons.

Functions

The functions of the ATK Subcommittee are:

  • To facilitate access to the best available Aboriginal traditional knowledge and the incorporation of that knowledge in the assessment and classification of species at risk;
  • To facilitate and, where necessary, participate - through reliance upon local holders of Aboriginal traditional knowledge - in the gathering of Aboriginal traditional knowledge in the assessment and classification of species at risk;
  • To commission Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Reviews, as needed, which collect and present Aboriginal traditional knowledge concerning eligible candidate species, and receive unsolicited Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge reviews;
  •  To work jointly with other COSEWIC subcommittees to:
  • develop a candidate list of species for potential assessment by COSEWIC,

  •  develop and maintain the COSEWIC species priority list;

  • commission Species Status Reports; and

  •  review unsolicited Status Reports

  • To facilitate the delivery of the best available Aboriginal traditional knowledge on the status of a species under consideration by COSEWIC to the commissioned writer(s) of a Species Status Report;
  • To review and advise on the adequacy of the Aboriginal traditional knowledge content of draft, interim and final Species Status Reports, and provide recommendations concerning the status assessments of particular species; and
  • To promote a wider understanding of the nature and the benefits of Aboriginal traditional knowledge concerning the assessment and classification of species at risk.


Structure

Members

The ATK Subcommittee is composed of Aboriginal people experienced in Aboriginal traditional knowledge. The subcommittee normally has at least nine members. All members are appointed by the Minister of the Environment on the basis of their experience concerning Aboriginal traditional knowledge after consultation with any Aboriginal organizations he or she considers appropriate. Each member is appointed during good behavior for a term of four years. A member may be re-appointed, and shall only be removed for cause.

The duties of Members are to:

  • perform their duties in an independent manner;
  • attend ATK Subcommittee meetings;
  • review draft and interim status reports and contribute to status assessment deliberations to the best of their knowledge and ability;
  • advise writers of status reports and ATK reviews of appropriate guidelines established for the gathering and recording of Aboriginal traditional knowledge, as well as known sources of information and appropriate contacts, suggest species for the priority list and for status reports, review drafts and interim reports, and provide regional expertise on the status of, and threats to species;
  • participate as members of ATK Review Teams, as necessary;
  • provide additional and specific expertise as required to support the work of the ATK Subcommittee; and
  • participate on other COSEWIC Subcommittees and working groups, as requested by the Chair of COSEWIC.

 

Co-Chairpersons

The members select, from among the membership, two ATK Subcommittee Co-Chairpersons. Initially, one Co-Chairperson serves a term of two years, and the other a term of four years. Thereafter, both Co-Chairpersons serve staggered four-year terms. A Co-Chairperson may be re-appointed, and shall only be removed by the members for cause, after consultation with COSEWIC.

One ATK Subcommittee Co-Chairperson sits as a member of COSEWIC. The other Co-Chairperson is the alternate ATK Subcommittee member of COSEWIC.

The duties of the Co-Chairs are to:

  • serve as spokespersons for the subcommittee to COSEWIC;
  • manage the affairs of the subcommittee, including the conducting of meetings;
  • participate as members of COSEWIC;
  • exercise their discretion in an independent manner; and
  • participate on the Co-chairs Subcommittee of COSEWIC.


Operation

 

Meetings

The ATK subcommittee develops it own operations and procedures, under the authority of COSEWIC.

The person chairing an ATK Subcommittee meeting ensures that the meeting proceeds in an orderly fashion, maintaining COSEWIC's fundamental principles of independence, transparency and integrity.

The ATK Subcommittee attempts to make all decisions on the basis of consensus. Where consensus is not achievable, decisions are decided by a vote. All members except the person chairing the meeting has one vote on all matters. This person votes only in order to break a tie.

The presence of two-thirds of the ATK Subcommittee constitutes a quorum at meetings of the ATK Subcommittee. However, a decision or status recommendation related to the assessment of a species ordinarily requires input of a member from the area providing the most significant habitat for the species, or - if no such member has been appointed - of a member of an Aboriginal People traditionally associated with the species.

At the discretion of the ATK Subcommittee Co-Chairs, observers may attend ATK Subcommittee meetings in whole or in part. Sensitive or personal information may be discussed in camera as requested by Subcommittee members.

Reporting

The ATK Subcommittee:

  • provides to COSEWIC copies of its Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Reviews and unsolicited Aboriginal traditional knowledge reviews. At the request of the ATK subcommittee, COSEWIC provides these documents to relevant authorities, including NACOSAR and wildlife management boards.
  • reports to COSEWIC on the adequacy of the Aboriginal traditional knowledge content of draft, interim and final Species Status Reports.
  • provides COSEWIC with recommendations concerning the status assessments of species discussed in Species Status Reports.
  •    provides an Annual Report of its activities to COSEWIC, which COSEWIC will make available on request.
  • All formal reports, advice and decisions of the ATK Subcommittee are provided in writing.

ATK Review Teams

Where a species is identified by the ATK Subcommittee or by COSEWIC as requiring an assessment that includes the best available Aboriginal traditional knowledge, the ATK Subcommittee may establish an ATK Review Team to provide it with relevant advice. The ATK Review Team is composed of Aboriginal traditional knowledge holders with specific expertise concerning that species and a member from the ATK Subcommittee who is responsible for reporting to the ATK Subcommittee.

ATK Database and Reviews

The ATK Subcommittee commissions ATK reviews on species requiring an assessment, via COSEWIC's procedure for commissioning reports.

Subject to relevant privacy and intellectual property rights and Aboriginal protocols, the ATK Subcommittee maintains a database and audio and video library on Aboriginal traditional knowledge resulting from the ATK Reviews or other work of the Subcommittee.

Network of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge-holders

The ATK Subcommittee will assemble a network of Aboriginal traditional knowledge-holders and related experts covering the various Ecozones in Canada. The ATK Subcommittee will rely upon those persons:

  • to participate as members of ATK Review Teams; or
  • to provide additional and specific expertise as required to support the work of the ATK Subcommittee.

Members of this network are selected by the ATK Subcommittee and are not members of COSEWIC. Their mandate and term are specified by the ATK Subcommittee.

Support

As outlined in the Terms of Reference of COSEWIC, the COSEWIC Secretariat provides necessary administrative and technical support to the ATK Subcommittee. The ATK Subcommittee directs to the COSEWIC Secretariat any request for a copy of a Committee report, recommendation or other non-confidential document.

Review and Amendment

These Terms of Reference may be reviewed and changed by the ATK Subcommittee and COSEWIC by agreement.