WINNIPEG – Representatives from the Pimachiowin Aki UNESCO World Heritage Site project partnership gathered in Winnipeg today to celebrate the send-off of their nomination package to the Paris, France headquarters of UNESCO. “This is the completion of many years of effort by our partnership,” noted Alex Peters, who is a co-chair of the Pimachiowin Aki partnership and a representative for Pikangikum First Nation. Peters went on to add that: “Back in 1999 when our Elders were considering planning issues related to Dedicated Protected Areas in the Whitefeather Forest they wanted to create opportunities for future generations of our youth. It was at that time that they decided to pursue a World Heritage Site opportunity.”
Peters noted how the late Elder Oliver Hill, who as Coordinator of the Whitefeather Forest Initiative Steering Group until he passed away in December 2011, played a key role linking to other First Nations at the beginning of the efforts on the project.
Peters added: “For me, the achievement today for future generations of our youth pays tribute to the work of Oliver Hill. This project is an important part of his legacy and the legacy that all of the Elders of Pikangikum are leaving with us through the Whitefeather Forest Initiative Steering Group. We are grateful for this legacy and especially grateful to those Elders who are no longer with us. Their desire to build a positive economic future for our community has been our motivation to keep going.”
The Pimachiowin Aki UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination process will now be carried forward by Canada at UNESCO. A successful inscription of the proposed Pimachiowin Aki site would create significant new opportunities in indigenous cultural tourism.