Ontario First Nation pulls out of UNESCO bid

Manitoba partners to redraw boundaries


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The bid to make the boreal forest in eastern Manitoba a UNESCO World Heritage Site has hit a snag after an Ontario First Nation pulled out of the project.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/07/2016 (2438 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The bid to make the boreal forest in eastern Manitoba a UNESCO World Heritage Site has hit a snag after an Ontario First Nation pulled out of the project.

The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, this weekend, has agreed to refer the Pimachiowin Aki nomination after hearing that the Pikangikum First Nation, one of the project’s partners, withdrew its support last month. The World Heritage Committee decision to refer means the project has up to three years to submit additional information for it to look at.

William Young, a Pimachiowin Aki corporation board member who lives in Bloodvein First Nation, said the four Manitoba First Nations have already decided to move on without Pikangikum.

“I was disappointed one of our partners withdrew,” Young said on Sunday.

“But it was good news that we received this morning. I was looking forward to a referral which we received.

“We are redrawing the boundary lines… we will have to review this whole project from the Manitoba side.”

The project, which has been in the works for about a decade, would have seen 33,400 square kilometres of boreal forest and traditional territory be inscribed on the World Heritage List of sites.

Other World Heritage sites include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the historic centre of Vienna, Austria; Angkor in Cambodia; and Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The partners in the Pimachiowin Aki Corporation, founded in 2006, have been the Poplar River, Bloodvein, Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations in Manitoba, the Pikangikum First Nation in Ontario and the Manitoba and Ontario governments.

In May, the committee’s advisory bodies released a draft decision recommending Pimachiowin Aki receive the nomination.

Gord Jones, Pimachiowin Aki’s project manager, said the referral has nothing to do with the provincial government’s decision to review the route of Manitoba Hydro’s Bipole III project.

Premier Brian Pallister said last month the province sent a letter to Parks Canada, which was heading the delegation to the World Heritage Committee, letting them know a hydro transmission line could be built through the area someday.

Jones said he is pleased the body decided to refer the project instead of asking that the group start over.

And Jones said he is encouraged that as early as next year the area could be designated as a World Heritage site.

“I was inspired by how many countries spoke in favour,” he said, noting the countries included Finland and Tanzania.

“They praised it highly. They felt it should be on the list.”

Pikangikum Chief Dean Owen could not be reached for comment.

Pikangikum is located 100 kilometres north of Red Lake, Ont., on the Manitoba border.



Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.


Updated on Sunday, July 17, 2016 11:28 AM CDT: fixes name

Updated on Sunday, July 17, 2016 4:55 PM CDT: update on location, chief comment

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