Four First Nations and the governments of Manitoba and Ontario
today announced establishment of the Pimachiowin-Aki non-profit
corporation as part of their goal to achieve international
recognition for lands east of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba and
Northwestern Ontario as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The area under discussion is about 42,000 square kilometers. It
includes the traditional territories of the Poplar River, Little
Grand Rapids, Paunigassi and Pikangikum First Nation and includes
Atikaki Provincial Park in Manitoba and Woodland Caribou
Provincial Park in Ontario.
“The area would be protected as an Anishinabe cultural landscape.
This will ensure that the Anishinabe who live there benefit from
sustainable economic activities that support their survival as a
people, increase their well-being and maintain the ecological
health of the land,” said Chief Russell Lambert from Poplar River
First Nation on behalf of the four First Nations.
Manitoba Conservation Minister, Stan Struthers, expressed
Manitoba’s support for the initiative as part of his government’s
commitment to communities on the East Side of Lake Winnipeg. “I
am excited about the work of this partnership and appreciate the
strong First Nations leadership. Gaining international
recognition for this globally significant boreal forest will also
generate jobs, tourism and suitable developments that will help
all Canadians enjoy this area”, said Struthers.
“This is a precedent-setting agreement to work for the
designation of an internationally important boreal area as a
World Heritage Site,” said Ontario Natural Resources Minister
David Ramsay. “It will bring both economic benefits to remote
First Nation communities and ensure the environmental protection
of a tremendously valuable ecosystem. Ontario is pleased to be a
part of this effort and is working with Manitoba and four First
Nations to leave a treasured legacy not just for Canada but for
The project has already generated considerable international
interest since the site would fill an identified gap in the World
Heritage Site system of protected areas, and because it proposes
an innovative approach to land management that combines
traditional Anishinabe and western scientific knowledge. The site
combines natural and cultural features. It has exceptional
ecological value with extensive undisturbed forests, lakes, and
wetlands that reflect unique geological processes and represent
critical habitat for several threatened or endangered species
including woodland caribou, bald eagles and wolverines. The site
also represents an outstanding example of traditional Aboriginal
life based on a close and enduring relationship to the land.
Archeological evidence in the area attests to over 6,000 years of
habitation by the Anishinabe people.
The nomination process will take three to five years to complete
and will produce important outcomes including community based
land use plans, a network of linked protected areas and an
innovative management system that combines western and indigenous
knowledge. If this nomination is successful, Pimachiowin-Aki
would be one of only a handful of sites on the World Heritage
List that are recognized for both outstanding cultural and
natural heritage values.
The UNESCO World Heritage List was established through an
international effort to identify and protect sites of universally
outstanding value so that they would survive for the benefit of
all humanity. Joining the list of well known sites such as
Pyramids of Giza, the Great Barrier Reef, the Taj Mahal and the
Grand Canyon will take considerable effort but will have great
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The Government of Manitoba is distributing this news release on
behalf of the governments of Mantioba and Ontario and the Poplar
River, Little Grand Rapids, Paunigassi and Pikagikum First