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National Aboriginal Council works on increasing the active participation, promoting and defending the rights of all Aboriginal Workers in our union and the community. They provide advice on all issues pertaining to racism, partnership agreements and employment equity and assist in developing CUPE policies.

Terms of Reference

This Aboriginal group shall be known as the “National Aboriginal Council” (NAC). The Co-chairs shall be known as the “Senators” and gender parity shall be adhered to. The council shall have the assistance of an Elder at each meeting.

Purpose of the Council

  • Promote and defend the rights of all Aboriginal workers in our union and communities, locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Advise the National Executive Board (NEB) sometimes in conjunction with other appropriate committees on all issues pertaining to racism, partnership agreements and employment equity as it impacts on these workers.
  • Periodically review, evaluate, monitor and assist in developing CUPE policies on racism, discrimination, partnership agreements and employment equity to ensure our commitment and progress in society, our workplaces and the union.
  • Establish effective programs in conjunction and consultation with the Union Development Department to increase aboriginal awareness and Aboriginal educational issues directed at CUPE membership, staff and leadership at all levels.
  • Develop and promote a well-thought out, comprehensive approach toward combating workplace racism and encouraging employment equity and representative workforce language through bargaining.
  • Seek methods for greater and active participation of Aboriginal workers in our movement through coalition building and community networking. As well encourage them to take more active advisory role to the NEB on Aboriginal issues in CUPE.
  • Report on the council’s progress to the national convention and make recommendations on action for CUPE.
  • Continue to assist in updating the web page on the CUPE National website.
  • Monitor and respond to the e-mail address Aboriginal@cupe.ca.
  • Shall be charged with planning and facilitating the Aboriginal Caucus at National Convention.

Composition of the Council and Expectations

  • Each Province and territory shall have representation on the council with alternate members except for the provinces, which have Aboriginal Council who shall each have two representatives with gender parity, and an alternative member.
    • Selection of representatives shall be based on the consensus model in the provinces that have established Aboriginal Council’s and in the other provinces the National President shall make the selection based on application and guidance of the Council.
    • In the event of a vacancy occurring during the term – the President shall have the opportunity to appoint upon direction of the Council.
  • The National Aboriginal Council members shall select the Senators by vote if the consensus model does not decide the Senators.
  • The Council member must be knowledgeable on CUPE policies, structures and have a proven track record of active participation in Aboriginal issues, human rights and anti-racism activities in the union and the community at large.
  • The Council member should strive to achieve excellence in implementing and achieving the council’s objectives and must be prepared to express CUPE position on our issues and the work of the Aboriginal Council at forums, conferences, schools, conventions, community meetings at local and national levels.
  • The National President shall assign the Diversity Vice-president of the NEB
  • as the NEB Liaison. The National President shall also assign staff to assist the Aboriginal Council.

Duties of Council Members


  • Provide leadership and coordination of activities at council meetings.
  • Maintain communications at all levels and engage in ongoing self-development and education on Anti-Racism and emerging trends.
  • Keeping the council members motivated, on track and focused at and between meetings.
  • Carry out any tasks entrusted to them by the council.
  • Work closely with the council staff advisor in carrying out council tasks, planning meetings, conference calls, agendas and preparation of the council reports.

Council Members

  • Attend and actively participate in all national council meetings. Alternate member may attend when member not available.
  • Keep the alternate member, his/her local union leadership, and provincial leadership informed on council’s work and activities.
  • Undertake follow-up work between meetings in his/her province/territory and identify any barriers.
  • Regularly report to the council staff advisor and the leadership of his/her activities in the province prior to the council meeting.
  • Provide feedback and input on draft minutes, CUPE documents, campaigns, reports and policies.
  • Actively promote the council’s work and increase their profile by keeping aboriginal issues on the front burners on all agendas.
  • Work closely with provincial and Local councils.
  • Participate in networking among other members and coalition building in the community in both celebrations and mobilization.
  • Participate and promote Days of Action and work closely with the Senators and the province in organizing other aboriginal activities.
  • Coordinate and assist in submitting resolutions to the National and provincial Conventions and help members with speaker’s notes.
  • Continue to lobby for Aboriginal Councils where they do not currently exist.
  • Actively participate and link our issues in all National and local campaigns.
  • Lobby for Employment Equity, Partnership agreements, anti-racism language and initiatives through the collective bargaining process.
  • Ongoing self-development on Aboriginal education and its promotion by staying connected with Education Representative and the provincial education committees.
  • Engage in a buddy system and mentoring process.
  • Maintain an activists’ list and assist in distributing aboriginal materials and information to the provincial councils.

Council NEB Liaison

  • Participate in all council meetings to share information and expertise.
  • Address Aboriginal issues and concerns at the NEB meetings.
  • Keep the NEB updated on the council’s decisions and vice-versa.
  • Provide advice to the NEB on Racism and Aboriginal issues and have issues referred to the council.
  • Report to the National Officers and the NEB to support and implement councils’ recommendations, decisions and plan of action.
  • Work for the integration of an Aboriginal perspective into everything CUPE does.
  • Stay connected with members from our communities in the province to share information and address their concerns.
  • Promote the council’s profile.
  • Advise the council on CUPE’s structure and the budget process.
  • Promote the Aboriginal education of the NEB members on Aboriginal issues.
  • Work closely with the council staff advisor and the Senators.

Council Staff Advisor

  • Maintains an up-to-date list of the council member’s coordinates.
  • Works closely with the leadership when seeking new members.
  • Provides guidance and direction to leadership in order to move an aboriginal agenda and assist in developing policies for the Union.
  • Provides orientation package to new members and provide ongoing mentoring and support to all council members.
  • Coordinates, plans and organizes council meetings in consultation with the Senators and NEB liaison. Advise members.
  • Prepares and circulate in a timely fashion the minutes of the meetings and invitation of comments.
  • Coordinates conference calls if necessary and assists with follow-up work between meetings. Monitor progress.
  • Seeks resources and budget necessary to carry out council’s work.
  • Between meetings seeks activity reports from members and reports back to the NEB. Keeps the Liaison member informed of the activities.
  • Assists council members to circulate, distribute and provide Aboriginal materials to locals, conventions, conferences, schools and other events.
  • Assists council members to organize Aboriginal initiatives in their provinces and assists in writing resolutions and speaker’s notes if needed.
  • Works closely with Communications Branch to produce and update Aboriginal materials and coordinates ads for days of action as requested by the council.
  • In conjunction with the Senators, coordinates writing council’s report to the national convention. Coordinates the follow-up work resulting from the council’s report and convention resolutions.
  • Works closely with other national committees and national branches to carry out council’s work and increase its profile.
  • The coordinator works closely with Equality Representatives in the provinces to assist council members in their provinces to carry out the work.

How the Council Operates

  • A minimum of two council meetings a year.
  • To promote input from all provinces of the country, the council may plan meetings in a different province of the country on a rotating basis on relevant events and may be open to observers. Meeting may be planned in conjunction with other Equity committees to show solidarity on issues. Where practical, participate in local initiatives beneficial to the membership.
  • Agenda to be circulated prior to the meeting. Adequate time to be allotted for issues to conclude the business. Agenda may include special presentations on specific issues.
  • Established “Ground Rules for Meetings” will be strictly enforced.
  • Small group activities would be encouraged to deal more effectively with agenda items.
  • Any unfinished business may be concluded by teleconferencing.
  • All members should come prepared to the meetings to report on their respective activities or follow-up work.
  • All decisions will be taken on consensus basis. If necessary, a vote may be taken. The council will decide whether it will be a secret ballot or a show of hands.
  • Following national conventions, the council shall prioritize all passed resolutions and develop a plan of action for the next two years.
  • Recommendation for members attending National or International Conferences will be duly discussed and shall be based on gender balance, diversity and provincial location. In fairness to all members, selection shall be among the interested members. Consideration will be given to active individuals who have a sound knowledge on the issues/topic for the conference and the ability to represent CUPE.

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