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Job Description

Director, Indigenous Innovation Initiative - Toronto, Ontario

Job Posting #: 920109

Position: Director, Indigenous Innovation Initiative

Union: Non-Union

Site: MaRS Discovery Tower (currently hybrid)

Department: Grand Challenges Canada

Reports to: VP, Programs

Hours: 37.5 per week

Salary: $133,000.00 

Status: Permanent Full-Time 

Shifts: Days

Posted Date: May 24, 2023

Closing Date: June 24, 2023

Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) is seeking a Director to lead the Indigenous Innovation Initiative (or “l3”).

The Indigenous Innovation Initiative is a program at GCC with the goal to enable Indigenous innovators and communities to identify and solve their challenges, transform lives, and drive inclusive growth and health outcomes. Created and led by Indigenous leaders, I3 is built on a foundation of Indigenous ways of knowing and being and is rooted in Indigenous values.

GCC has worked with Indigenous leaders for the last 4+ years to build I3 into the first national funding platform for  Indigenous innovators. Round 1 launched in May 2020 and received over 200 applications from Indigenous innovators across Canada. The response clearly demonstrated the demand for seed funding for innovative projects that serve Indigenous communities. We are almost complete with Round 1, with our early learnings available in the following report.

We launched the Round 2 call for innovations in March 2023. We are at a critical and exciting time to complete this phase and support this Initiative to eventually become self-determining. The path to self-determination remains to be defined and the incoming leader would play an essential role in charting the way forward, working closely with the Indigenous Innovation Council and other stakeholders, and building on lessons learned to date. These lessons include the constraints of hosting Indigenous programs at a non-Indigenous organization like GCC. GCC is
committed to providing significant autonomy, support, and psychological safety within our organizational limitations.

Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact®. Funded by the Government of Canada and other partners, GCC funds innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas that Grand Challenges Canada supports integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – known as Integrated Innovation®- and we work to catalyze their scale, sustainability, and impact. One of the largest impact-first investors in Canada, Grand Challenges Canada has funded over 1400 innovations championed by innovators in more than 96 countries. These innovations are expected to save up to 1.78 million lives and improve up to 64 million lives by 2030.

Director, Indigenous Innovation Initiative

The Director, Indigenous Innovation Initiative will report to the VP, Programs. The Director will also be guided by the advice of the Indigenous Innovation Council (IIC) with whom they will be responsible for building and maintaining a trust-based relationship and from whom they will seek advice on decisions about initiative strategy.

Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Lead the Indigenous Innovation Initiative Team

  • Supervise and manage approximately 6-8 team members and accountability for those with direct reports.
  • Lead with a people-centric approach to bring out the best of a talented, diverse, high-performing team and nurture the development of its emerging leaders.
  • Ensure accountabilities sit with appropriate team members and that division of labour is clearly defined and communicated.
    Articulate and budget for the implementation of l3’s strategy, develop and implement annual plans and priorities, with specific accountability for the 1-2 year time horizon.
  • Look to integrate a decolonization lens through both leadership style and strategy design.
  • Model work behaviours that align with Grand Challenges Canada’s commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (Policy posted here).
  • Work collaboratively with other Directors and Functional Leads across Grand Challenges Canada (e.g., Senior Director of Finance, General Counsel, Sr. Director of People & Culture, etc.).

Strategic Partner Relations & Fundraising:

  • Build strong relationships with current and potential government and private foundation funders.
  • Fundraise for the l3 with support from the Director of Funder & Partner Relations.
  • Identify and develop strategic partnerships in the Indigenous innovation ecosystem.
  • Engage regularly with Indigenous initiatives in the ecosystem to disseminate learnings, cross-pollinate knowledge, and explore potential collaboration.

Lead Innovation Selection, Funding, and Innovator Support Activities

Influence Indigenous Innovation System

  • Set an agenda of systems change for the Indigenous Innovation, and work closely with the Director of Knowledge Management & Translation to set a monitoring and evaluation framework to track progress.
  • Lead implementation of systems change activities.
  • Be a thought leader for Indigenous innovation, Indigenous systems change, decolonization processes, and keep up-to-date on Indigenous challenges in communities across Canada.
  • Serve as primary spokesperson for the Indigenous Innovation Initiative.

Steward Public Funds

  • Work closely with Senior Director of Finance and General Counsel to ensure compliance with GCC and l3 funders’ accountability requirements.
  • Mitigate and manage risks, with support from the General Counsel / Chief Risk Officer, and Co-CEOs.

Strategy Development, Engagement and Execution

  • Develop and then execute a strategy for the next phase of the Indigenous Innovation Initiative post 2025, engaging deeply with the Indigenous Innovation Council, seeking input from funders, for approval by the GCC Board.

Skills and Experiences We Are Looking for:

  • Minimum of 8 years relevant experience.
  • Excellent understanding of Indigenous context and proven ability to nurture relationships with current and new Indigenous innovators/leaders (rural, urban, on/off reserve) in Canada. This knowledge includes lived experience.
  • Experience developing and implementing strategic plans, tools, resources, processes, and protocols required to support Indigenous innovations, businesses, organizations, programs, and projects.
  • Experience leading and managing community engagement and relationship management activities using culturally rooted and gender-affirming approaches.
  • Proven excellence in people/team leadership in a way that promotes inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility, setting team members up for success through collaboration and mentorship.
  • Understanding working with employees and community members who are cisgender and transgender women, part of the Two Spirit community, and/or non-binary folks in addition to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or identifying as queer in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
  • Proven ability to influence multiple stakeholders – from government funders, governance bodies (i.e., council and board members), to community relationships – towards a common vision and a chosen method of implementation.
  • Strong project management skills with demonstrated ability to manage competing priorities and deadlines.

We will prioritize applications from First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Don’t meet every single requirement? Studies have shown that women, people of color, people from LGBTQ2S+ and disabilities communities are less likely to apply to jobs unless they meet every single qualification. At Grand Challenges Canada, we are dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive, authentic, and accountable workplace, so if you’re excited about this role but your experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply as you may be the ideal candidate we are looking for.

Travel within Canada will be required. Grand Challenges Canada is committed to supporting equal opportunities to this position - please advise if you require any accommodations and we will support them as needed.

If we invite you to an interview, you are encouraged to become familiar with the following foundational resources
that guide all aspects of the work that we do:


  • Health and Dental provided by Sunlife Canada effective on start date
  • Enrollment in the Healthcare of Ontario (HOOPP) Defined-Benefit Pension Plan
  • Four (4) weeks of paid vacation
  • Four (4) day work week (with Friday as a flex/off day), excluding weeks with Statutory holiday
  • Access to Employee Assistance Program (EAP), UHN discounts for personal services such as gym, spa and hotel stays


  • Start date: August 2023
  • Full-time, Permanent

Application process

  • Please send your resume and cover letter

Note: Interviews will occur on a rolling basis, as eligible candidates apply.

Current UHN employees must have successfully completed their probationary period, have a good employee record along with satisfactory attendance in accordance with UHN's attendance management program, to be eligible for consideration. 

Vaccines (COVID and others) are a requirement of the job unless you have an exemption on a medical ground pursuant to the Ontario Human Rights Code. 

UHN is a respectful, caring, and inclusive workplace. We are committed to championing accessibility, diversity and equal opportunity. Requests for accommodation can be made at any stage of the recruitment process. Applicants need to make their requirements known in advance.  Any information received related to an accommodation will be addressed confidentially. 

University Health Network thanks all applicants, however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

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