When a site achieves United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage recognition, it means the entire world agrees it is worthy of protection and is important enough to preserve for everyone.
Not only prestigious, many see a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation as an internationally-recognized badge of protection and preservation for a given area, culture and, sometimes, even a way of life. Recognition is also important because it draws interest among scientists and researchers and attracts tourism.
Pimachiowin Aki, The Land that Gives Life, has the potential to be one of a very few sites recognized for both cultural and natural values. Stretching over 43,000 square kilometers (about the size of Denmark), it is in the midst of the nomination process to achieve this renowned status.
The project began in 2002, when the communities of Pikangikum, Poplar River, Pauingassi, Little Grand Rapids and Bloodvein River officially signed The Protected Areas and First Nations’ Resource Stewardship Accord.
To ensure it is recognized internationally, the Pimachiowin Aki partners sought the support of the government of Canada to include it among Canada’s potential UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In 2004, the Canadian federal government added Pimachiowin Aki to its short list of 10 potential sites after a review of 125 sites across Canada.
The Pimachiowin Aki board is now in the next phase of the nomination process. Its nomination document will be prepared in 2011 and will be submitted by Canada to UNESCO for official consideration in 2012.
Since 1972, UNESCO has recognized certain places on earth for their cultural or natural significance to all of humanity.
Today, nearly 1,000 sites are listed by UNESCO.
Many are instantly recognizable such as the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, Chichen Itza in Mexico, England’s Westminster Abbey and Canada’s Rocky Mountains.
Others, while not as well known, are on the list because they meet UNESCO’s high standards according to specific criteria.
Among Canada’s 15 UNESCO sites, just a handful are in the east. There is only one in Ontario – the Rideau Canal – and none in Manitoba.