Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

The Pimachiowin Aki in Ontario and Manitoba, home to the Anishinaabe people for 6,000 years, covers 29,040 square kilometres of mostly untouched wilderness.

A massive tract of boreal forest straddling the Ontario and Manitoba borders that has been home to the Anishinaabe people for 6,000 years has received the two key recommendations it needs to become Canada’s first mixed cultural and natural UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Pimachiowin Aki, which means the Land That Gives Life in Anishinaabemowin, covers 29,040 square kilometres (almost the size of Vancouver Island) of mostly untouched wilderness and is home to one of the largest herds of caribou south of Hudson Bay as well as many other species of mammals, birds, insects and fish.

A World Heritage mixed designation is a declaration that an area is so important to the world, both culturally and ecologically, that it must be protected. There is another such site in Mexico but none in Canada or the continental United States.

Story continues below advertisement

Detail

Lake

Winnipeg

ONTARIO

MANITOBA

Red Lake

Pimachiowin Aki

nominated area

Lake

Manitoba

Boundary, 2017

0

50

First Nations

Winnipeg

KM

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: pimachiowinaki.org

Detail

Lake

Winnipeg

ONTARIO

MANITOBA

Red Lake

Pimachiowin Aki

nominated area

Lake

Manitoba

Powerview-

Pine Falls

Boundary, 2017

0

50

First Nations

Winnipeg

KM

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: pimachiowinaki.org

Detail

Lake

Winnipeg

Sask.

Ont.

Que.

U.S.

ONTARIO

MANITOBA

Pimachiowin Aki

nominated area

Red Lake

Lake

Manitoba

Powerview-

Pine Falls

Boundary, 2017

0

50

First Nations

Winnipeg

KM

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: pimachiowinaki.org

The main advisory bodies to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee – the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – have posted their recommendations in favour of the region’s designation as a World Heritage site on the UNESCO website.

The decision will be made when the World Heritage Committee meets in Bahrain from June 24 to July 4.

“We can’t get ahead of the World Heritage Committee, as the final decision is theirs,” William Young, a Pimachiowin spokesman and member of the Bloodvein First Nation, said Wednesday in a statement, “but we expect to share some good news this July about achieving another of the milestones the partners set for themselves 16 years ago.”

Five First Nations began working toward the designation in 2002 and, four years later, the First Nations and the two provinces created the Pimachiowin Aki Corp. to promote the concept.

The first application to the World Heritage Centre was submitted by Canada on behalf of the Pimachiowin Aki in 2012. But that was deferred by the committee, which requested more information, saying it was unclear that the area is unique.

A second submission was made in 2016. But just before an announcement was to be made, the Pikangikum First Nation, one of the Pimachiowin Aki Corp.’s members, withdrew its support saying it was concerned about errors in UNESCO’s evaluation report.

So the World Heritage Committee again deferred its decision to a later date, giving time for the proponents to resolve their issues.

Story continues below advertisement

That gave the corporation up to three years to submit a new bid without the participation of Pikangikum. The most recent application covers about 13 per cent less land than the 2016 submission because Pikangikum’s lands have been withdrawn.

But the Pimachiowin Aki Corp. says other First Nations in the area may join the initiative if they wish to do so. The corporation has spent $5.6-million over the years on various projects, with 90 per cent of that money coming from the two provincial governments.

Valérie Courtois, the director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, which promotes Indigenous responsibility for conservation, said a World Heritage designation would help Canada reach its goal of protecting at least 17 per cent of its lands by 2020 as part of the UN Convention on Biodiversity.

A designation as a World Heritage Site would also help the First Nations preserve their traditional lands, trap lines and livelihoods, and it could create new opportunities for tourism, non-timber forest projects and boreal research activities.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies