Council on Aboriginal Initiatives

The formation of the Council on Aboriginal Initiatives was the brainchild of our Provost, Dr. Carl Amrhein along with our  (then) Chancellor, Dr. Eric Newell.  Beginning as a working group and moving quickly into a 60-member Council on Aboriginal Initiatives, the CAI meets at least year times and has a steering committee of eight which also meets four times per year.  The genius of the CAI, is that it’s members are incredibly diverse, we have representation from five Aboriginal student groups, faculty members from Native Studies, Education, Law, Medicine & Dentistry, and Family Medicine to name a few.  The group also includes members of Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal post secondary institutions, members of the Senate and City of Edmonton employees.  This diverse group allows for incredibly rich and expansive discussions and opens up a space for meaningful and consultative dialogue.  The CAI has been faced with many challenging decisions effecting Aboriginal initiatives on campus and with relationships with communities off campus.  We have touched on such sensitive topics as honourariums and protocol with Elders, and conflicts with traditional ceremonies.   Through these conversations, we have developed of a guideline booklet that holds a consistent set of principles that enables people from the University community to respectfully connect with Elders and members of the community. 


Council on Aboriginal Initiatives
Terms of Reference

Mandate/Terms of Reference:

The aim of the Council on Aboriginal Initiatives (CAI) is to provide a voice dedicated to the interests of the Aboriginal community at the University of Alberta.  To this end, this document of ‘Mandate/Terms of Reference’ has been created for the Council to follow as a guideline.  The CAI will;

1.  On its own initiative or on referral by other agencies and individuals acts as a forum to discuss issues and formulate recommendations to the Provost related to Aboriginal education that both promote the objectives and mission of the University of Alberta and represent the best interests of Aboriginal students.

2.  Foster open and constructive dialogue on all issues, especially on those where conflict may be perceived by some members between university objectives and the best interests of Aboriginal communities.

3. Guide and encourage the university community in the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge and cultural appropriateness in its programs, thereby encouraging honour and respect for all Aboriginal peoples.

4. Ensure communication and cooperation among all offices and organizations that provide services affecting the university’s Aboriginal community.

5.  Foster collaboration between University of Alberta researchers and Aboriginal communities by helping to build mutual understanding and confidence between Aboriginal communities and university researchers in order to identify critical Aboriginal research priorities. 

6.  Examine existing University policies and practices to determine the degree to which they respect, honour, and support the contributions of Aboriginal knowledge and peoples in the University community.


7.  Upon the request of a sponsor or referral from GFC, considers and provides advice on program proposals to university administrators, student groups, and student governments which might affect or enhance the quality of Aboriginal student life.

8.  Identify opportunities for University of Alberta units to partner with other institutions or organizations in the delivery of Aboriginal teaching, learning or research endeavors together with associated service programming, and provide counsel on those endeavors and partnerships if so requested.

9.  Foster discussions related to the transferability of courses and programs of interest to Aboriginal learners, acknowledging and including the mandate and work of the Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer (ACAT).

10.  Function on the understanding and principle that Aboriginal peoples can best define how to successfully fulfill the terms of reference contained in this document and will work diligently with University of Alberta personnel to achieve this end.

11. Assist the university in gathering the appropriate data so as to identify Aboriginal priorities.

12.  Promote the university’s programs and services in the Aboriginal community and recommends recruitment, application and admission strategies to better engage and retain Aboriginal students through appropriate university bodies.

13.  Develop strategies with the Dean of Students, Dean of FGSR, and the Registrar to ensure more complete self-reporting of Aboriginal status is achieved.

14.  Review terms of reference on a biennial basis to ensure they continue to meet the needs of the Council on Aboriginal Initiatives and the communities with which they engage.



  • Provost (Co-Chair)
  • Chancellor (Co-Chair)
  • 4 Deans (Education, Native Studies, Augustana, Law)
  • Vice-Provosts (Chief Librarian, Dean of Students, University Registrar)
  • Members of the Senate and Senate Alumni, as selected by the Senate
  •  Students (Graduate Student, Undergraduate Student and a representative from Aboriginal Students’ Council)
  •  Representatives (no less than two) from existing and active University of Alberta Aboriginal initiatives (for example, UAAAC, ATEP, CILLDI, ACADRE, other)
  • Staff representatives (Coordinator, Aboriginal Student Services)
  • Other representatives as deemed appropriate by the Co-Chairs
  • Resource to the Council – Office of the Provost


Council Meetings


The Council will meet not less than three times per year at mutually scheduled times.


Agendas will be managed by the co-chairs. Normally, materials shall be circulated in advance to all members.  In the case of urgent and important items that have not been placed on the agenda in advance, these may be added to the agenda on the determination of the chair.



Council Secretariat


The Office of the Provost will provide secretarial support to the committee.


The Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) will hold official records of the committee’s deliberations.  The records of the Committee will be subject to the provincial FOIPP legislation and comply with the records retention schedule of the Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic).