The boreal forest along the Manitoba-Ontario boundary is now recognized by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a world heritage site due to its Indigenous culture and preserved environment.
“The Land that Gives Life”
In Ojibwa, the name of the boreal forest is “Pimachiowin Aki,” which translates as ‘the land that gives life.’ The almost untouched forest spreads about 29,000 square kilometers – over half the size of Nova Scotia. It is home to four First Nations that live on the land, continuing tradition.
The areas like Pimachiowin Aki, Dinosaur Provincial Park (Alberta) and the historic district in Quebec City are all considered world heritage sites (among other 1,000 UNESCO sites in the world). They will be protected from future development and will boost tourism.
The Manitoba government spent over $15 million in the last 13 years, and Ontario spent about $1 million to show UNESCO the area deserves to be considered a world heritage site.
After three attempts, UNESCO finally considered a bid by Pimachiowin Aki. The first one was in 2013 when two of the UNESCO advisory groups concluded that there is not enough information to deem the area unique. The second one was in 2016 when one of the five First Nations communities pulled out from the project.
A report done on the bid stated that the region can only be accessed through flight and that not much tourism could be drawn to that area. According to the Marr Consulting report, there could be less than 1,000 visitors per year:
“Expectations must be managed to recognize that tourism will not likely generate either large numbers of visitors or large revenue for communities.”
Nonetheless, Pimachiowin Aki spokesperson, Sophia Rabliauskas, stated that:
“It has been a long time for us, it seems – at least 17 years of work went into it – and the communities have worked really hard to see this day, and to see the end results of this whole project.”
She added that the primary goal of making the area a world heritage site will be a way through which they can now “devote all our efforts to preserving Pimachiowin Aki as a treasure for our people and the world.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere