Minister McKenna’s response to the 2017 Minister’s Round Table, Let’s Talk Parks, Canada called for the creation of a short-term independent working group with expertise in governance, policy development, ecological science, and heritage conservation.

Purpose and responsibilities

The working group is reviewing decision-making at Parks Canada, including Parks Canada practices, policies, planning, monitoring programs, and approval processes to ensure that maintaining ecological and commemorative integrity are priority considerations in decision making at Parks Canada. The working group will develop a report and make recommendations to the Minister.

Structure and composition

The working group is comprised of a Chair and six members chosen by the Minister. The Chair is responsible for establishing the work plan, facilitating the working group’s discussions, and guiding the preparation of the final report.

The members have expertise or backgrounds in the following areas:

  • ecology and ecological integrity
  • commemoration and commemorative integrity
  • policy and planning, with specific knowledge of decision-making processes in organizations
  • organizational management and transitions
  • tourism or recreation business in a heritage environment
  • an Indigenous representative who can ensure the working group’s efforts include an Indigenous perspectives

Members of the Minister’s Independent Working Group

Peter Robinson (Chair)

Peter Robinson began his career as a park ranger working in wilderness areas across British Columbia, where he was decorated for bravery by the Governor General of Canada. After his park career, he became the CEO at BC Housing, and later the CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op. Most recently he led the David Suzuki Foundation through a decade of work on climate change, marine and terrestrial conservation, and public education. Since 2016, he and his wife have owned Hedgerow Farm on Mayne Island, where they are actively combining sustainable agriculture and restorative land stewardship in their vision for the property.

Peter has a long history of humanitarian work, including monitoring prisons with the International Red Cross in Rwanda. He has served as the Chair of the Board of Governors and the Chancellor of Royal Roads University and with the Board of Directors of the Canadian Red Cross Society. Peter holds a Doctorate of Social Sciences, a Master of Arts in Conflict Analysis and Management, a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, and other diplomas.

Dr. Catherine Potvin

Dr. Potvin holds the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) on Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests and is a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science. She has been working on the link between biodiversity and climate change since her Ph.D. research, at Duke University in the mid-1980s. Her expertize ranges from plant physiological ecology to plant community responses to elevated CO2 concentration, biodiversity, and ecosystem functions, and biodiversity conservation in the context of land use change. Her work on tropical rainforest conservation focusses on reducing uncertainties around estimates of forest carbon stocks relying on participatory methods.

Since 2014, Professor Catherine Potvin is leading Sustainable Canada Dialogues, a network of over 80 scholars from all ten provinces of Canada dedicated to providing solutions to advance climate actions. In 2017 Dr. Potvin and Sustainable Canada Dialogues were commissioned by Natural Resources Canada to take the lead of a report examining how Canada could transition to a low carbon economy while remaining globally competitive. Dr. Potvin’s research also seeks to foster cross-cultural learning on climate change with the goal of ensuring that Indigenous peoples of Canada become full partners in the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy and a sustainable society.

Dr. Christina Cameron

Dr. Christina Cameron holds the Canada Research Chair in Built Heritage at the University of Montreal where she directs a research program on heritage conservation in the School of Architecture. She previously served as a heritage executive with Parks Canada for more than thirty-five years providing national direction for Canada’s historic places with a focus on heritage conservation and education. She has written extensively since the 1970s on Canadian architecture, heritage management, and world heritage issues. She has been actively involved in UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention as Head of the Canadian delegation (1990-2008) and as Chairperson (1990, 2008).

She currently chairs Canada’s Advisory Committee on Official Residences. She received the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada (2007), the country’s highest recognition for public service, and the Gabrielle Léger Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the cause of heritage conservation (2014). Christina Cameron was appointed to the Order of Canada (2014) and awarded the Prix Gérard-Morisset (2018).

Steven Nitah

Steven Nitah’s career has thus far been dedicated to the advancement of Indigenous nations and the resurgence of Indigenous knowledge and governance as key features of ecological, cultural and economic sustainability. He is Chief of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, President and CEO of Densoline Corporation and an MLA in the General Assembly of the North West Territories. Through his consultancy, he is acting as Chief Negotiator for the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation on the establishment of Thaidene Nene National Park and Reserve resulting in the protection of 26,380 km2 of traditional territory. He is also advisor to the Indigenous Leadership Initiative (ILI) and Ducks Unlimited Canada and has worked with the NWT Treaty 8 Tribal Corporation as they negotiate their lands, resources and governance relationships with both federal and territorial governments. He has played a number of other leadership roles, ranging from CBC North TV Associate Producer to liaison in the mining industry and recently as a core member of the Indigenous Circle of Experts to support Pathway to Canada Target 1. Through these positions, he has developed significant expertise in Treaty and Aboriginal Rights, nation-to-nation negotiations and relationship building and cultivated a strong ability to work across disciplines with a variety of individuals to promote synergistic relationships between First Nations, industry, and crown governments.

He brings a holistic understanding of conservation and sustainable economic development for and with Indigenous communities, along with a strong ability to lead groups, communities, and projects in a positive direction, and to collaborate and work with diverse actors from industry and ENGOs to local and national governments. His work and life support the restoration of Indigenous relationships to land through traditional practices and governance, and the creation of meaningful and respectful relationships with others working collaboratively and respectfully with Indigenous partners to support Indigenous nationhood, and forward decolonization and reconciliation efforts both personally and nationally.

Dr. Elizabeth Halpenny

Dr. Elizabeth Halpenny has a Ph.D. in Recreation and Leisure Studies from the University of Waterloo (2006), a Master’s in Environmental Studies from York University (2000), and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Wilfrid Laurier University (1992). Prior to her work as an academic, Dr. Halpenny worked with an international NGO, the International Ecotourism Society (2000-2005) as Research and Workshop Coordinator. Dr. Halpenny conducts research in the areas of tourism, marketing, environmental psychology, and protected areas management. Some of her current research projects include examining the use, acceptance, and impact of mobile digital technologies among tourists (i.e. festival patrons and protected area visitors); investigating the impact of world heritage designation and other park-related brands on travel decision-making; exploring individuals’ attitudes towards and stewardship of natural areas.

Munir Sheikh

Munir Sheikh served the Government of Canada for over 35 years, rising to the senior-most civil service position of a Deputy Minister. He advised many Canadian Prime Ministers and Ministers of Finance on economic, fiscal and tax matters. His last position with the Government was as the Chief Statistician of Canada.

After his retirement, he was appointed a Research Professor at Carleton University where he teaches public policy to graduate students.

He has been invited as a guest speaker by many universities and organizations, including Harvard and Princeton. He has received many awards and honours including Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, induction into the Hall of Heroes by the Community Indicators Consortium, Chicago and an Award of Distinction by the Premier of Ontario.

He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and has published extensively in both academic journals and the media. His academic work has been widely quoted and reproduced in textbooks and included in books of collected readings. He also taught at Queens University and the University of Ottawa for many years.

Yaprak Baltacioglu

Yaprak Baltacioglu is an accomplished public sector leader with over 25 years of progressive Federal Government experience shaping strategic policy, overseeing programs, contributing on many senior committees, and impacting government affairs at the highest levels of decision-making. Ms. Baltacioglu has served as the trusted advisor to four Prime Ministers and numerous ministers, Cabinets and departmental officials on programs, issues, legislation and policy in areas including the economy, treasury, transportation, infrastructure, security, agriculture, healthcare, and the environment. She is an expert in legislative/regulatory issues, policy development, international/government relations, and the workings of government, including its principles for sound governance and government-wide policy.

Ms. Baltacioglu was recently appointed Chancellor of Carleton University and is a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She also sits on various boards including Hydro Ottawa and the Institute of Corporate Directors. The Women’s Executive Network twice recognized Ms. Baltacioglu as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and recipient of several honours for significant contributions to the public sector. She holds a Master of Arts from Carleton University School of Public Administration as well as a Bachelor of Laws and an Institute of Corporate Directors designation from the Rotman School of Management.


October 2018 to March 2019


The working group will produce a report reviewing how decision-making at Parks Canada incorporates ecological and commemorative integrity and providing recommendations on how to ensure that maintaining ecological and commemorative integrity are priority considerations in decision making at Parks Canada.