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Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna speaks in Ottawa on March 24, 2016.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

For the first time in more than a decade, Ottawa is asking Canadians to nominate favoured places as candidates for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna made the announcement Monday in Grand Pre, N.S., home to one of Canada's 18 UNESCO sites out of more than 1,000 worldwide.

"As we look around here today, we can feel how special this place is to Canada," McKenna said, "because it takes a very special place to make the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites."

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McKenna invited Canadians to suggest places of cultural, historic and natural significance for Canada's list of nominees for world heritage status by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture.

She said the additions to the nomination list, last updated in 2004, will be revealed in 2017 in honour of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

"As anyone who has had the privilege of exploring our great country knows, there's no shortage of spectacular places," McKenna said.

The minister is putting together a committee of heritage experts, including indigenous representatives, to review submissions for Canada's next world heritage bid.

Five of the 11 sites on Canada's current nomination list have been inscribed as world heritage sites – most recently Mistaken Point, N.L., which was recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Turkey last month.

Mistaken Point is one of seven world heritage sites in Atlantic Canada. The rocky stretch of coastline on the southeastern tip of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula is home to some of the oldest known evidence of complex, multicellular life.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places of cultural or natural significance that members of the global community have committed to preserve for future generations, sometimes through financial assistance or expert advice.

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"It is reserved for humanity's most outstanding achievements and nature's most inspiring creations," McKenna said. "Our government is committed to ... giving Canadians the opportunity to experience these special places."

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