IJC expands its International Red River Board


The International Joint Commission announced today that it has added four new seats to its International Red River Board.  It is the long-standing tradition of the IJC that members of the Commission’s boards or similar bodies serve on such boards in their personal, professional capacity and not as representatives of their respective governments or employing agencies or organizations. 

The Board keeps the IJC informed of basin activities that affect transboundary river flows, water quality, and ecosystem health in the Red River and its tributaries, and also monitors the implementation of flood-related recommendations made by the IJC.

“Indigenous collaboration and engagement in the management and protection of our shared waters is of great value and interest to the Commission,” said Canadian Commissioner Merrell-Ann Phare.

“Indigenous knowledge has the potential to strengthen water management as different perspectives are brought forth in the decision-making process,” added Canadian Commissioner Henry Lickers, the first Indigenous commissioner appointed to the IJC.

The addition of these four new seats will bring the total number of board seats to 20, with 10 members each from Canada and the US, including a Co-Chair and Secretary from each side of the boundary. Experiences of federal, state, provincial and municipal governments, Tribal governments, First Nations and Métis, watershed management agencies, nongovernment organizations and the public are shared on the Board.

“Including Indigenous governments, organizations and citizens in the decision-making process is a top priority for the Commissioners of the IJC and we are acting on this priority,” said US Commissioner Rob Sisson.

The new members are:

Dr. Annette Trimbee, who holds a Ph.D. from McMaster University focused on aquatic ecology and brings to the Board a wealth of knowledge and experience on both scientific and social-community matters. She is a Métis citizen and is currently President and Vice-chancellor of MacEwan University in Edmonton following six years as President and Vice-chancellor at the University of Winnipeg.

Ms. Melissa Hotain, who holds a diploma from the University of Manitoba in Environmental Science, is a member of and currently Intergovernmental Affairs Director for the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, Manitoba. She brings to the Board a wide range of experience related to water, policy, negotiation, and emergency, land and project management.  

Mr. Benjamin Yawakie, who has a B.A. in Statistics and Chemistry and a B.Sc. in Biology. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Zuni, a descendant of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux, and White Bear First Nations, and is on the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board as a Citizen member appointed by Governor Mark Dayton. Valuable knowledge related to diversity, water, data and community resilience in the flood-prone Red River Basin are part of the package of experience which he brings to the Board.

Ms. April E. Poitra-Walker, who is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, has a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from North Dakota State University and is a certified floodplain manager and professional engineer registered in North and South Dakota, and Minnesota. April brings to the Board extensive experience in engineering, waterworks, post-flood restoration, and emergency response and community engagement; she is also currently a West Fargo Planning Commissioner.

The IJC is pleased to welcome these new members to the International Red River Board and is grateful for their commitment of time and expertise to its work.

The IJC was established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help the governments of Canada and the United States prevent and resolve disputes over use of the waters shared by the two countries.


Sarah Lobrichon (Ottawa)              613-794-8592    sarah.lobrichon@ijc.org

Kevin Bunch (Washington)            202-632-2014     kevin.bunch@washington.ijc.org