Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage site Recognizes Indigenous Stewardship of Canada's Boreal Forest
OTTAWA, July 1, 2018 /CNW/ - Today, Pimachiowin Aki, a 29,040 square kilometre expanse of boreal forest spanning the Manitoba–Ontario border, has been inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, took the opportunity to celebrate this treasured place as the nineteenth member of Canada's family of World Heritage sites, and to congratulate those involved in its nomination.
This significant achievement follows years of dedication by the Pimachiowin Aki Corporation, led by four Anishinaabe First Nations - Bloodvein River, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi and Poplar River - and the Manitoba and Ontario governments, with guidance and advice from Parks Canada.
Pimachiowin Aki, which is Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) for "the land that gives life", is Canada's first mixed World Heritage property. Blending both natural and cultural heritage values, this large intact boreal forest ecosystem under Indigenous stewardship, is an exceptional example of the indivisibility of the natural environment and the cultural identity and traditions of Indigenous peoples.
World Heritage sites represent some of humanity's most outstanding achievements and nature's most inspiring creations. They are considered to have Outstanding Universal Value, and are protected for the benefit of all humanity. The decision to inscribe Pimachiowin Aki on the prestigious World Heritage List was made by the World Heritage Committee during its annual meeting in Bahrain.
The announcement comes three days after a meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers, alongside Indigenous organizations, that advanced cooperation on shared priorities to protect nature and biodiversity across Canada.
The timing of this inscription is fitting as Canadians celebrate Canada Day. The Government of Canada invites visitors to experience and learn more about Canada's natural and cultural heritage, including the country's nineteen UNESCO World Heritage sites.
"I am delighted to welcome Pimachiowin Aki into Canada's family of UNESCO World Heritage sites. These national treasures represent the very best that Canada has to offer, including the history, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous peoples. As Canada's first mixed World Heritage site, Pimachiowin Aki reflects our outstanding natural and cultural heritage, and the integral role of Indigenous peoples in caring for our natural spaces. On this Canada Day, I am very proud to be able to showcase Pimachiowin Aki to the world. Congratulations to all those who have worked for the inscription of Pimachiowin Aki.
The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
- Pimachiowin Aki comprises the traditional lands of four Anishinaabe communities – Poplar River, Bloodvein River, Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations – as well as adjacent protected areas, including Atikaki and South Atikaki Provincial Parks in Manitoba, and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and Eagle-Snowshoe Conservation Reserve in Ontario.
- The site's massive 29,040 square kilometre tract of boreal forest east of Lake Winnipeg, straddling the Manitoba-Ontario border, is nearly the size of Vancouver Island.
- World Heritage sites are exceptional places around the world that are considered to have Outstanding Universal Value. As such, they are part of the common heritage of humankind. There are over 1,000 sites on the World Heritage List worldwide.
- Parks Canada is the lead agency for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in Canada due to its longstanding experience and depth of expertise in the conservation of both natural and cultural places. Twelve of Canada's nineteen World Heritage sites are areas managed in part or in whole by Parks Canada.
Backgrounder: Pimachiowin Aki & World Heritage Convention
Known as Pimachiowin Aki ("the Land that Gives Life"), this internationally recognized network of protected areas is situated in the North American Boreal Shield and spans an area of 29,040 km2. For millennia, the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), Indigenous people of this region, have lived intimately with this place in the boreal forest. The site comprises the traditional lands of four Anishinaabe communities – Poplar River, Bloodvein River, Pauingassi, and Little Grand Rapids First Nations – as well as adjacent protected areas, including Atikaki and South Atikaki Provincial Parks in Manitoba, and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and Eagle-Snowshoe Conservation Reserve in Ontario.
Pimachiowin Aki is a living cultural landscape that reflects the beliefs, values, and practices that guide Anishinaabe interactions with the land. Cultural attributes dispersed across the landscape include habitation, harvesting, and processing sites, traplines, travel routes, named places, ceremonial sites, and sacred places, such as pictographs. Numerous archeological sites throughout the area demonstrate the long occupation by Indigenous peoples. Anishinaabe customary governance and oral traditions ensure continuity across generations and reflect an intimate relationship between culture and nature that has preserved the boreal forest of Pimachiowin Aki.
Pimachiowin Aki is located in what once was the centre of glacial Lake Agassiz. The features left behind by this lake and the impact of these features on ecosystems are evident today in the vast area of healthy boreal forest, wetlands, exposed bedrock, myriad lakes, and long free-flowing rivers that characterize Pimachiowin Aki. The site contains a diversity of terrestrial and freshwater aquatic ecosystems and fully supports wildfire, nutrient flow, species movements, and predator-prey relationships, which are essential ecological processes in the boreal forest. Four large unimpeded rivers flowing through the area contribute to its aquatic diversity. One of these rivers, the Bloodvein, is a designated Canadian Heritage River. Pimachiowin Aki supports a high proportion of the North American boreal shield species, including characteristic and iconic species, as well as species of conservation concern, such as woodland caribou, wolverine, lake sturgeon, leopard frog, and Canada warbler.
World Heritage Convention
The World Heritage Convention is an international treaty that was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. Currently, 193 countries (known as "State Parties") have ratified it, including Canada which did so in 1976. The Convention is a vital tool in safeguarding the world's heritage - having sites inscribed on the World Heritage List often serves as a catalyst to raising awareness for heritage preservation. It is rooted in the recognition that some heritage places have such exceptional qualities they can be considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value (often referred to as OUV) and are the shared responsibility of the international community as a whole. The Convention therefore seeks to identify, protect, conserve, present, and transmit to future generations, cultural and natural heritage that are deemed to be of Outstanding Universal Value, for the benefit of all humanity.
SOURCE Parks Canada
For further information: Caroline Thériault, Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 819-938-3813, firstname.lastname@example.org; Media Relations, Parks Canada Agency, 855-862-1812, email@example.com://www.twitter.com/parkscanada