January 18, 2012

Source: Manitoba Government

Preserving Unique Area of Outstanding Natural, Cultural Value Would Benefit Humankind for Generations: Selinger

A proposal to secure world heritage site designation for a large area of boreal forest in eastern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario is complete and ready for submission to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Premier Greg Selinger announced today at a special event at the Legislative Building.

Today marks an important milestone on our journey to protect the heart of the last intact forest of its kind left in the world,” said Selinger. “Thanks to the vision and leadership of our First Nation partners, we are now in a position to present Canada’s first UNESCO world heritage site proposal based on both natural and cultural criteria.”

The Pimachiowin Aki world heritage project is a collaboration of five First Nations and two provincial governments committed to securing world heritage status for the largest protected-area network in the North American boreal shield.

The inscription of Pimachiowin Aki as a UNESCO World Heritage Site would advance the objective of all our partners to safeguard and celebrate this outstanding cultural landscape,” said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. “It would also recognize the foresight and leadership of First Nations, and would stand as a proud example of co-operation among Aboriginal peoples, the Province of Ontario and the Province of Manitoba.”

Pimachiowin Aki, Ojibwe for the land that gives life, is the name given to this area covering 33,400 square kilometres of intact boreal forest and pristine waterways on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, Selinger explained.

Elders from our Five First Nations, who are partners on this project, have a vision that we need to work together to take care of this land for people who live on the land and for visitors to the land,” said Sophia Rabliauskas, spokesperson for Pimachiowin Aki. “We also know that we are protecting it for children across the world who benefit from things that are often unseen like clean air and clean water. When you look at the research in this box that is going to UNESCO you will see that our ancestors have been taking care of this land for generations and the UNESCO designation will help us continue to do that for the next generation.”


The Pimachiowin Aki nomination dossier is over 4,000 pages of material that makes the case the area has outstanding universal value. It is scheduled to arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris by Jan. 27.

A special display has been set up at the Legislative Building for the public to learn more about the nomination. It will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. until Sunday, Jan. 22.

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The Pimachiowin Aki (Pim-ah-chee-owe-in Ahh-key) Corporation is a non-profit corporation comprised of five First Nations: Bloodvein River, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi, Pikangikum and Poplar River, and, and the Manitoba and Ontario provincial governments.


Pimachiowin Aki’s goal is to achieve international recognition for 33,400 square kilometres of land in Manitoba and Ontario as a UNESCO world heritage site. It includes the ancestral lands of the participating First Nations, Atikaki Provincial Park in Manitoba as well as Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and Eagle Snowshoe Conservation Reserve in Ontario.


Inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List is being sought on two criteria:

>> Natural. The proposed site fills an identified gap in the world heritage site system within the boreal shield. It has exceptional ecological value with extensive undisturbed forests, lakes and wetlands that reflect unique geological processes and represents critical habitat for several species including woodland caribou, bald eagles and wolverines.

>> Cultural. It is also an outstanding example of traditional Aboriginal life based on a close and enduring relationship to the land. Archaeological evidence in the area attests to over 6,000 years of habitation by the Anishinaabe.


The nomination process has involved community consultations, research, mapping and land management planning. The completed dossier consists of a nomination document, a management plan and a series of annexes comprising the research undertaken by the corporation such as a natural comparative analysis, a cultural comparative analysis, a cultural landscape atlas, a governance study, ecosystem study, economic study and other background material, land management plans completed by the First Nations and provincial government, park management plans and photographic materials.


Once the nomination is received by UNESCO, it will be reviewed to ensure it is complete and will then be forwarded to UNESCO’s technical advisors at the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the International Council on Monuments and Sites. The decision making process generally takes 18 months.


Provincial-First Nation Land-management Planning in Manitoba and Ontario

>> The governments of Manitoba and Ontario have each supported joint provincial-First Nation land-management planning and the nomination of Pimachiowin Aki for many years. Through land-management planning and regulations, an assurance is being provided to UNESCO that the area will be maintained.

>> With the passage of the East Side Traditional Lands Planning and Special Protected Areas Act in Manitoba in 2009, the first legislation of its kind in Canada, Manitoba provided a mechanism for First Nations to develop and implement land management plans for their ancestral lands in a way that is consistent with the establishment of a world heritage site. The Bloodvein and Poplar River First Nations have had their planning areas and land management plans legally designated and approved under the act.

>> Similarly, the Ontario government strengthened the Pimachiowin Aki bid by passing the Far North Act in 2010, giving legal recognition to the jointly prepared community-based land use plans. The Far North Act sets out a joint land-use planning process between First Nations and Ontario, which provides for the protection of areas of cultural value and ecological systems in an interconnected network of protected areas. In collaboration with the Ontario government, Pikangikum First Nation, Little Grand Rapids First Nation and Pauingassi First Nation have completed this planning process, as recognized under the Far North Act, for lands in Pimachiowin Aki.

>> In 2008, Ontario and Manitoba created Canada’s first interprovincial wilderness area, a jointly managed 9,400-square-kilometre area along the provincial border which contributed to the groundwork for the world heritage site bid. It includes Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and the Eagle-Snowshoe Conservation Reserve in Ontario and Atikaki Provincial Park and parts of Nopiming Provincial Park in Manitoba.

>> In 2010, the Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Fund Act was proclaimed into law in Manitoba to make funds available in perpetuity to protect, preserve and celebrate the natural and cultural values of the area. These legal and financial commitments demonstrate the resolve of all partners to safeguard and transmit to future generations the heritage values of Pimachiowin Aki.

UNESCO World Heritage

>> For over 30 years, UNESCO has been working to identify world heritage sites of outstanding universal value and ensure their safekeeping for future generations. An international agreement adopted by UNESCO in 1972 was founded on the premise that certain places on earth hold outstanding universal value and should form part of the common heritage of humankind.

>> Places as diverse as East Africa’s Serengeti, the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Taj Mahal in India have been designated world heritage sites.

>> Canada’s first world heritage site was L’Anse aux Meadows, inscribed in 1978. Today there are six Canadian sites recognized for cultural value and nine for natural value. If successful, Pimachiowin Aki would be Canada’s first world heritage site inscribed for both natural and cultural values.

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