Board profile

1. Purpose and objective

To provide a description of the skills, knowledge, experience and attributes required of a CMHR Trustee so that the Board as a whole possesses the blend of expertise necessary to fulfill its role and responsibilities. 

The Trustee profile will: 

  • Identify the core experience and attributes required of all Trustees;
  • Serve as the basis for the skills matrix used to assess composite Board expertise; 
  • Assist to develop recruitment strategies for prospective Trustees; 
  • Assist to develop full Board and individual Trustee training and development strategies; and 
  • Help to ensure that all parties involved in the appointment process, including the Board of Trustees, the Minister responsible for CMHR, the Privy Council Office, any external search firm that may be engaged as well as any potential candidates, have a common understanding of CMHR’s Trustee requirements. 

2. Corporate mandate

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is established as a Crown corporation under the Museums Act. Located in the heart of Canada, at the confluence of major rivers and historic cultures, the CMHR is a place open to ideas, to debate and to the immense promise of human rights. By examining and celebrating stories from across Canada and around the world and by creating inspiring encounters with human rights, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights hopes to stimulate thought, dialogue and action.

The purpose of the CMHR as stated in section 15.2 of the Museums Act is: 

“to explore the subject of human rights, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, in order to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others and to encourage reflection and dialogue.” 

The CMHR aspires to offer its visitors an inspiring encounter with human rights while exceeding Canadians’ expectations for balance, transparency, sound business practices and meaningful public consultation. The following metanarrative defines our guiding principles:

Inspiring human rights reflection and dialogue

The CMHR fosters an appreciation for the importance of fundamental freedoms and democratic rights, spurs informed dialogue and invites participants to identify the contemporary relevance of past and present human rights events, both at home and abroad. The CMHR is committed to an inspiring visitor experience unlike any other in the world.

Celebrating Canadians’ commitment to human rights

The citizens of Canada are endowed with inherent human rights and responsibilities, codified over time in treaties, policies, laws and declarations. The CMHR provides a safe and engaging space to cultivate respect, gratitude, understanding and ongoing improvement of this human rights inheritance. The CMHR connects its visitors with opportunities to explore the global development of human rights concepts and Canada’s important role within it.

Meaningful encounters between architecture and human rights

The CMHR is purposefully situated at a historic junction where two rivers meet: an important meeting place and starting point for new journeys for more than 6,000 years. The CMHR honours this tradition by inviting guests to participate in a human rights journey of their own, in a building significant for its architectural symbolism of human rights advancement.

Dynamic and accessible human rights content

The CMHR aims to deliver an immersive, interactive and memorable experience for visitors of every background, age and level of ability. All participants will have access to an ever‐changing museum experience that reflects a design approach that sets new Canadian and world standards for inclusion and universal accessibility.

A credible and balanced learning resource

As a global human rights learning resource, the CMHR bears a responsibility to ensure the accuracy, integrity and credibility of its research and collected knowledge. The CMHR strives to serve as a trusted national and international source for human rights learning, at all times encouraging critical engagement with museum scholarship and content.

3. Roles and responsibilities

The role of the Board of Trustees is to develop and achieve the CMHR vision, mission and mandate within the larger public policy context as established from time to time by Parliament. Under the Museums Act, the Board is responsible for the fulfilment of the purpose and management of the business, activities and affairs of CMHR. The Board oversees the CMHR on behalf of the Crown and bears fiduciary responsibility for protection of the CMHR’s assets. 

The CMHR is accountable to Parliament for the conduct of its affairs through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The Board holds management accountable for the CMHR’s performance, its long‐term viability and the achievement of its objectives. 

The Board of Trustees is comprised of up to 11 members, including the Chair and Vice‐Chair. All Trustees are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister for a term of up to four years. Trustees may be reappointed for a maximum of three terms. Trustees are appointed to hold office during pleasure, which means that they may be removed by the Governor in Council. 

The Board of Trustees provides broad strategic direction and oversight with the assistance of 5 committees: an Executive Committee, an Audit and Risk Management Committee, a Finance Committee, a Museum Programs Committee, and a Human Resources and Governance Committee. 

The key responsibilities of the Board include:

  • Establishing the strategic direction of the CMHR;
  • Appointing the CEO, with the approval of the Governor in Council;
  • Setting corporate objectives and performance measures;
  • Monitoring corporate performance and the performance of the CEO in the achievement of objectives;
  • Ensuring a plan for the succession of the CEO is in place;
  • Serving as stewards of the CMHR and safeguarding resources;
  • Overseeing the management of risk and internal controls;
  • Ensuring that stakeholder relations are managed appropriately;
  • Safeguarding the reputation of the CMHR;
  • Reporting to the Crown; and
  • Practicing effective corporate governance.

4. Challenges, issues and initiatives

In 2016 the Board of Trustees approved a Strategic Plan to guide the CMHR’s endeavors and set priorities over the next five years. The following strategic objectives reflect a need to grow the CMHR and expand its reach across the country:

  1. Visitor experience – The Museum delivers an inspiring, relevant and memorable experience to each of its visitors, using the metanarrative as the guiding principles.
  2. Audience reach – The Museum grows and retains its audience within the local market, across Canada and internationally.
  3. Recognized leader – The Museum grows its reputation as a recognized leader for human rights education, inclusion, reconciliation and museological practice.
  4. Financial sustainability – The impact of the Museum’s revenue‐generating activities, allocations from the federal government, support from fundraising activities, including sponsorships, and ongoing cost controls allow the Museum to maintain and continually renew its programs and infrastructure. An entrepreneurial culture will be promoted at the Museum.
  5. Our people – The Museum attracts and retains diverse, talented, motivated and engaged staff and volunteers who are invested in the CMHR’s long‐term success. The Museum supports its employees in working at their highest and best potential.

5. Core attributes, competencies and experience

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

Skills and commitment

Stature in his/her chosen profession and community activities.
A commitment to the protection and advancement of human rights, and to continuous learning.

Informed judgement

The ability to provide wise, thoughtful counsel, to analyze, ask relevant questions at the strategic level, consider the different stakeholders’ perspectives, understand situations and problems by addressing underlying issues.

A willingness to listen attentively and respectfully and take value from others’ contributions with a capacity to compromise and work with others to build consensus.

The ability to think strategically and be innovative with a capacity for forward thinking and recognition of trends in the operating environment.

Integrity and accountability

Demonstrating high ethical standards and integrity, and being willing to act on and remain accountable for board decisions. 
Having an appreciation for the CMHR’s responsibilities to the Crown and the public, and a view of oneself as serving the interests of Canadians. 

Impact and influence

An awareness of the impact of organizational issues, policies and decisions on public interests and concerns. 

The 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.

The ability to present views clearly, frankly, constructively and persuasively, and an adaptability to change.

6. Specific skills, knowledge and experience

Trustees should possess a solid understanding of the mandate of the CMHR and the role of the Board of Trustees.

Trustees are expected to bring a broad range of knowledge and experience to their roles, which will allow them to deal with the full complexity of the Museum’s business. The collective knowledge and experience of Trustees should provide a broad spectrum of expertise and diverse perspectives that support the formulation of well‐informed Board decisions. 

It is recognized that not all Trustees will have expertise in all functional and technical areas required by the Board. The nature of the corporation and the challenges it faces will dictate the overall mix of skills and knowledge required for the Board as a whole. A balance of Board experience in the following areas is desirable. 

  • Leadership – experience leading a business or organization or a significant division of such an entity.
  • Museums – experience in working in or providing consulting/advisory services to museums.
  • Human rights – knowledge of and/or experience in the broad field of human rights as distinct from a specialization in one aspect of human rights.
  • Education – experience in teaching, researching or working in administration at an academic institution.
  • Information technology – experience in complex technology environments including the use of social media and digital interfaces. 
  • Organizational management – understanding of organizational design and management.
  • Finance / accounting – understanding of financial statements and supporting schedules that present a breadth and level of complexity of accounting issues generally comparable to those expected to be raised by the organization. Understanding of financial operational management and the proper application of internal controls.
  • Strategic / corporate planning – experience in strategic/corporate planning for public sector, private sector or not‐for‐profit boards, with a demonstrated ability to focus on long‐term goals and strategic outcomes.
  • Enterprise risk management – experience in the process of identifying principal corporate risks and in ensuring that management has implemented the appropriate systems to manage risk.
  • Legal – knowledge of and/or experience in the broad field of legal and regulatory matters, including a demonstrated ability to identify and consider issues, opinions and risks and to understand complex contractual arrangements.
  • Board of Directors / governance – experience in serving on public sector, private sector or not‐for‐profit boards. Experience with good governance policies.
  • Communications / public relations – experience in developing communication strategies including crisis management and public relations programs.
  • Government relations – experience in strategic government relations and strong connections with at least one if not several levels of Government.
  • Stakeholder / strategic partnership management – experience in assessing and managing stakeholder expectations and maintaining healthy and mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders and strategic partners.
  • Marketing / branding – experience in developing and promoting a corporate brand and marketing strategies to attract and engage customers. 
  • International exposure – experience in working in an international environment through business or government and /or dealing with international issues. 
  • Human resources / compensation – understanding of human resource/personnel considerations and issues for executive recruitment, compensation structures, performance reviews and a unionized environment.

7. Representation

As a national museum serving the public interest and a diverse set of stakeholders, the Board of Trustees aims to attract individuals who are representative of the communities which the Museum serves, including people with disabilities, indigenous people and people of diverse backgrounds.

8. Working conditions

Time commitment

The Board of Trustees holds four to five regular meetings each year, with each meeting lasting one to two days. Additional meetings, either in person or via teleconference, may be scheduled as required by the Board’s business. Trustees are expected to prepare for Board meetings and actively participate in them. Trustees are also expected to attend the Board’s annual strategic planning session. Board meetings are generally held in Winnipeg, but may be held elsewhere in Canada. 

Trustees are expected to participate on at least one Board committee. Committees generally meet four times per year, but may meet more frequently as required by the committee’s business. 

Trustees are expected to maintain a strong attendance record at both Board and committee meetings. They are expected to arrange their personal and business affairs to facilitate attendance whenever possible. The total time commitment, including Board and committee meetings, travel and meeting preparation, is approximately 20 days per year. 


All Trustees are required to be Canadian citizens. Trustees must sign and abide by the CMHR Code of Conduct for Trustees. They must also comply with Canada’s Conflict of Interest Act for public office holders. 


Remuneration for Trustees is set according to guidelines established by the Governor in Council and is comprised of both an annual retainer and per diem payments for attendance at Board or committee meetings. Eligible regular trustees earn an annual retainer of $4,200 while the chair and vice‐chair of the Board earn an annual retainer of $8,400 and $7,400 respectively. Eligible trustees also receive per diem payments of $325. 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 CMHR.

9. Profile review

This profile will be reviewed on a biennial basis by the Human Resources and Governance Committee, having regard to the strategic direction of the Museum and the emerging priorities. 

Initial Approval by CMHR Board: January 27, 2016

Update: revisions made in March 2018 to update approved Strategic Objectives.