UN Committee Upholds Pimachiowin Aki Nomination

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Pimachiowin Aki nominated area i
Pimachiowin Aki nominated area
Pimachiowin Aki nominated area i
Pimachiowin Aki nominated area

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia –International —At today’s meeting of the 37th session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee held in Phom Penh, the Committee upheld the recommendations of IUCN and ICOMOS, the advisory bodies to the Committee to defer consideration of the Pimachiowin Aki nomination.
Pimachiowin Aki First Nation Board member Ed Hudson who attended the meeting said, “The advisory bodies have asked us to work with them to refine our nomination to ensure that it will be successful in the future. They want to use our nomination to help improve their evaluation process.” Hudson concluded by adding, “We are disappointed, but at the same time we received many positive comments about the high quality of our nomination and the fact that this nomination was led by the First Nations.”

Comprised of 33,400 square kilometers, the Pimachiowin Aki nominated area is situated in eastern Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. The site was nominated as a mixed site reflecting both its cultural and natural values.

“Through these proposed management plans, the Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nations have defined how the land and resources will be protected while supporting sustainable economic development opportunities,” said Selinger.  “These plans form a critical part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site proposal to recognize this tract of southern boreal forest.  They will also help ensure the long-term social, economic and environmental well-being of local residents and all Manitobans.”

The plans for each First Nationhave been officially submitted to the province for approval and will be finalized following a public consultation period.  The planning areas form part of a 33,400 square kilometre expanse of protected southern boreal forest currently under consideration for the UNESCO World Heritage Site designationas an area of outstanding natural and cultural universal value.  The area is considered rare because it is one of the last remaining sections of southern boreal undisturbed by industrial development.  It is home to threatened species such as the woodland caribou.

“Our Anishinabe traditional territories are an integral aspect of our lives, well-being and our future,” said Sophia Rabliauskas, spokesperson for the Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Project.  “Our First Nations have always had the knowledge and ability to make the right decisions for our lands and have done so for thousands of years.  We have welcomed the opportunity to work with our Province of Manitoba to ensure our First Nations-led land-use plans are recognized and implemented.”

The Committee recognized issues in the evaluation process that prevented them from effectively evaluating the interrelationship between culture and nature and directed that a discussion paper be presented at its meeting next year. The Committee also commended the State Party, First Nations and other stakeholders for their exemplary efforts in developing the Pimachiowin Aki nomination.
The Canadian delegation to the meeting was led by staff of Parks Canada and included several members of the Pimachiowin Aki Corporation. Project Manager, Gord Jones, said, “Witnessing the Committee process first-hand demonstrates the global importance of the World Heritage Convention, the high standards in place related to World Heritage inscription as well as challenges that are reflected in the Committee’s decision.”
Jones concluded, “We’re hoping to meet with officials of the advisory bodies over the next few days so that we can brief the Board of Directors of the Corporation about the options going forward.” Jones also expressed appreciation for the support of Manitoba, Ontario and Parks Canada throughout the nomination process.
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