Chair of the Mercury Disability Board

An exciting opportunity exists in the position of Chair of the Mercury Disability Board, to support strategic direction to the Board and to participate in unprecedented reforms that will benefit members of First Nations who are suffering from the impacts of mercury exposure.

A Brief History of the MDB

In November 1985, an out of court settlement agreement was reached that included Wabaseemoong Independent Nations (formerly Islington, formerly Whitedog), Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (also known as Grassy Narrows First Nation) and the federal and Ontario provincial governments (the parties). The settlement dealt with mercury contamination in the English and Wabigoon river systems, and provided for the establishment of a Mercury Disability Board (Board) and a Mercury Disability Fund (Fund).

In 1986, both Canada and Ontario enacted legislation to carry out the terms of the settlement, including the creation of the Board. The Board supervises the administration of the Fund and oversees a claims and appeals process that is available to all eligible First Nation members.

The Board, along with the parties to the settlement are in the process of reforming the Board and its operations, including implementing a report from a panel of renowned experts in neurophysiology and environmental health and neurology, environmental toxins and toxicology, disability compensation and Indigenous health. The incoming Board Chair would work collaboratively with the parties, the Mercury Disability Board (MDB) members and MDB Operations Team in a manner that sustains the confidence of the four parties in the work of the Chair. The Chair will continue the important work of Board reform that includes, but is not limited to, modernizing the Board’s assessment and compensation practices in alignment with the current science on signs and symptoms of mercury exposure and best practices in disability compensation, administering assessment clinics and overseeing compensation payments to successful claimants.

In keeping with the spirit of the Expert Panel Report’s 51 recommendations, the Chair will consider and support the capacity needs of the four parties to enable their full participation at meetings, and board related work. This includes addressing power imbalances that may arise as a result of mercury exposure and other acts of colonialism.

ROLE

The Chair is responsible for providing leadership, and coordinating overall strategic, operational and financial direction of the Board, which includes fostering an environment of transparency, respect, accountability, fairness and equity. The Chair acts as an ambassador for the Board, and is the Board’s primary public face when engaging with First Nations, governments and the public.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Understand the role and powers of the Chair and Board under the legislative framework;
  • Chair Board and Committee meetings in accordance with Board policies and procedures;
  • Work collaboratively (respectfully and constructively) with the member First Nations and Government representatives (Grassy Narrows First Nation, Wabaseemoong First Nation, the Province of Ontario, and the Government of Canada hereinafter referred to as the “four parties”), advisors and chosen MDB, and MDB reform teams;
  • Support the Board in strategic planning, and support organizational priorities and governance;
  • Provide support to the Board and its members in updating, developing and/or applying Board policies and procedures in compliance with governing legislation, the reform process, and any applicable human rights legislation or other legislation as may be required;
  • Engage with the four parties and work with MDB Operations Director to implement Board reforms;
  • Work collaboratively with and provide oversight to the MDB Operations Director and staff team as necessary;
  • Oversee the work of the Operations Director and act as liaison between Operations team and the Board of Directors;
  • Manage and ensure collaborative work of the Operations Director and staff in implementing the reform processes, while ensuring the Board and its Operations are properly resourced;
  • Facilitate and support the Board’s ability to consult with professionals and government officials as the Board considers necessary;
  • As spokesperson and ambassador for the Board attend required meetings and events, Working Group Meetings, feasts and special events to implement and further reform processes.
  • Ensure effective financial oversight of the Board;
  • Ensure an environment of safety and respect for the affected First Nations’ cultures and history, and their communities’ strengths and challenges by all staff and medical professionals contracted to work with the MDB and by all Board Members;
  • Be respectful and responsive to needs of the affected First Nations and their community Members to ensure the Board serves the First Nations’ community members to the best of its ability;
  • Travel (eg. to Kenora, Wabaseemoong, and Grassy Narrows, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, and Ottawa) once every other month or as required;
    The above list is indicative only and not exhaustive. The Chair will be expected to perform all such additional duties as are reasonably commensurate with the role.

Qualifications

Professional Skills:

  • Strong leadership, facilitation, organizational and administrative skills;
  • Knowledge of board governance practices and previous board experience, or equivalent;
  • Knowledge of issues that face Indigenous people and communities, as well as demonstrated cultural awareness and sensitivity;
  • Experience supervising and providing management support to staff teams;
  • Knowledge of human rights, equity, and anti-oppression principles and practices;
  • Experience in financial oversight.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills:

  • Superior group facilitation skills to support consensus building and Board decision-making;
  • Strong inter-personal and relationship-building skills to foster productive internal and
    external relationships;
  • Respect and integrity in all situations, with the ability to listen, engage, and communicate
    effectively;
  • Ability to establish and maintain good, respectful relationships with First Nations communities and/or other marginalized groups;
  • Strong commitment to implementing the Board’s mandate in a manner  that is respectful of the affected First Nation communities and consistent with human rights principles and standards.

Assets

  • Experience in developing and/or updating policies and procedures, including to compliance with human rights requirements;
    Experience working in an environment pursuant to a legislated mandate;
  • Previous experience Chairing a Board;
  • Professional knowledge of disability benefits;
  • Experience working with or for Indigenous peoples or organizations.

REMUNERATION

This is a part-time position at 4 days per month for a term of 2 years. Additional days may be required during transition period. The contract may be renewed after the first term if mutually agreed by the parties. Per diem remuneration commensurate with experience as agreed by the Board; travel expenses and disbursements to be reimbursed according to Board policies.

HOW TO APPLY

To apply for this position, please submit a résumé and cover letter outlining your interest and experience via email to: klickers@bellnet.ca

The Board encourages applications from Indigenous persons and other equity-seeking groups.

Applications will be accepted until November 21, 2022.