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Media Release

CEC Council names roster of experts on traditional ecological knowledge

Boston, MA, 15 July 2015—The governing Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) today named a new roster of experts on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) from Canada, Mexico and the United States. The experts will work with the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) to provide advice to the Council on opportunities to apply TEK to the CEC’s operations and policy recommendations.

Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, made the announcement at the Council’s 22nd Regular Session in Boston, Massachusetts, in company with her Session colleagues, Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, Mexico’s Deputy Secretary of Planning and Environmental Policy for Semarnat, representing Juan José Guerra Abud, Mexico’s Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources on this occasion, and United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, who is this year’s CEC Council Chair and host for the Session.

“These traditional knowledge experts from across North America will provide invaluable input into the work of the CEC,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council. “When considered alongside science, traditional knowledge contributes to improved understanding of ecological processes and ultimately better results for the environment.These nominees will contribute a tremendous wealth of knowledge and understanding of the land and our environment.”

On behalf of Secretary Guerra, Deputy Secretary Lacy highlighted that “participation of local communities and indigenous people is essential to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. The TEK roster of experts is an innovative instrument to support our efforts. In Mexico, there exist more than 60 indigenous peoples (around 15 million Mexicans) with a cumulus of knowledge and experiences in the use and management of the natural capital and its biodiversity.”

“These experts will provide valuable contributions from our local and indigenous communities to improve environmental management. Together, we will strengthen our work with our tribal partners and enhance our understanding of the effects of climate change, conservation and the sustainable use of our natural resources,” said Administrator McCarthy. “We thank them for taking on this role and we will ensure their input is incorporated into all CEC projects and programs.”

The TEK roster is the first traditional ecological knowledge panel to be named to an intergovernmental organization such as the CEC. The appointments stem from a commitment made by Council at the 2014 Council Session, held in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to work effectively with local and indigenous communities across North America to enhance the three countries’ understanding of the environment and make effective environmental management decisions.

The initiative also recognizes the importance of preserving the traditional knowledge and practices of local and indigenous communities that help address the effects of climate change, and contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, and the protection of biological diversity.

Canada, Mexico, and the United States each appointed five members to the CEC’s TEK roster. Each member will serve an initial term of two years.

The CEC TEK roster members are:


  • Dr. Donna Hurlburtconsultant on TEK and Western science in environmental decision-making
  • Kathy L. Hodgson-Smith, criminal and Aboriginal lawyer
  • Leah Manik Muckpah, regional coordinator for the Kivalliq Wildlife Board
  • Melissa Hotain, independent consultant on First Nations’ issues;
  • Norman Sterriah, traditional knowledge coordinator for the Ross River Dena Council


  • Citlalli López Binnqüist, teacher and researcher at the Universidad Veracruzana
  • Amelia Reyna Monteros Guijón, consulting advisor to Mexico’s National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples and president of the organization Ac-Yacto, A.C.
  • Antonieta Zárate Toledo, teacher in the Sustainable Development degree program at the Universidad Intercultural de Chiapas
  • Cessia Esther Chuc Uc, professor and researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Campeche
  • Concepción Díaz Pérez, member of the advisory board of Mexico’s National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples

United States

  • Christopher H. Peters, president, Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples
  • Dr. Henrietta Mann, a founding president of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College in Weatherford, Oklahoma
  • Gail Small, founding member and executive director of Native Action
  • Lynn Malerba, chief of the Mohegan Tribe
  • Sarah James, Gwich’in Nation

Additional information, including biographies of the CEC TEK roster members, and terms of reference, is available at www.cec.org/jpac/tek.

JPAC is composed of 15 citizens, five from each country. It advises the Council and ensures public participation, openness, and transparency in the actions of the CEC.

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About the CEC

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was established in 1994 by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States through the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, a parallel environmental agreement to NAFTA. As of 2020, the CEC is recognized and maintained by the Environmental Cooperation Agreement, in parallel with the new Free Trade Agreement of North America. The CEC brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, Indigenous people, youth, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the business sector, to seek solutions to protect North America’s shared environment while supporting sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations

The CEC is governed and funded equally by the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Government of the United States of Mexico through the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, and the Government of the United States of America through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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