Global Environments Community Environmental Leadership Exchanges are peer-to-peer learning opportunities specifically for indigenous peoples. They were launched in October 2013 at the first North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE) held in Capay Valley, California, with the aim to bring together Indigenous environmental practitioners to discuss issues unique to Indigenous nations and strengthen networks between them.
In October 2013, resource people Susannah McCandless (Global Diversity Foundation), Melissa Nelson (The Cultural Conservancy), Darcie Houck (GESA alumna, 2012), Octaviana Trujillo (Northern Arizona University; GESA Resource person 2011), and Robin Marsh (UC Berkeley) co-organized NACELE 2013 with assistance from Kaylena Bray (GESA alumna, 2013) and Inanc Tekguc (GESA alumnus, 2011). Led by GDF under the auspices of the Global Environments Network in partnership with The Cultural Conservancy, the workshop convened dynamic indigenous leaders from all over North America to discuss ongoing actions to protect and restore lands, waters and traditional foodways, and through these, culture and sovereignty.
The results of the 4-day workshop were presented at a participant-led panel, “From Conflict to Collaboration: Tribal Strategies for Resistance and Restoration” as part of the Indigeneity Program of the 2013 Bioneers meeting. NACELE received support from a Switzer Foundation Innovation Grant, The Christensen Fund, the Cultural Conservancy, and Bioneers, in addition to the GDF Global Environments Summer Academy Alumni Fund.
NACELE 2015, held 18-22 June 2015, convened 40 Indigenous environmental leaders from Canada and the United States met on traditional Mohawk/Kanienkeha’ka territory at the Montreal Botanical Garden and in the community of Kahnawà:ke. Professionals, practitioners, elders and youth shared research, strategies and tactics and stories of resistance, joy, tragedy, hope and transformation. We explored potential collaboration for environmentally sound solutions for critical issues facing Indigenous communities in the 21st century. Drawing from its location at the Montréal Botanical Garden (MBG), the workshop carried the theme “Nourishing Relations: People, Plants and Place.”