CCPA Mb. has contributed much to the ongoing debate on the fate of the east side of Lake Winnipeg (known as Pimachiowin Aki), particularly concerning the controversial decision to run Bi Pole III down the west side of the province. Part of the reason we believe this decision was the right one is that it supports the bid to have this area designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
That bid ran into a snag after it was submitted – a snag that was exploited by critics of the government’s choice of the route for Bi Pole III. An insightful report in the Winnipeg Free Press sets the record straight and confirms that Manitoba is firmly on the right side of this issue.
The boreal boost by Alexandra Paul explains that the reason the bid didn’t sail through, as many of us thought it would, is because the current UNESCO process does not have an adequate mechanism to evaluate the unique environmental AND cultural aspects of the application. Paul quotes Matthew Jacobson, a scientist from the Boreal Songbirds Initiative and one of the authors on a report about Pimachiowin Aki: “There’s no way of evaluating the intersection of nature and culture which is the crux of this particular nomination. . .”.
The World Heritage Committee will now consider ways to improve their evaluation process and the bid is currently being re-written to strengthen the connection between First Nations’ culture and the high environmental integrity of this region. The bid will be reconsidered once the evaluation process is improved.
Jacobson is further quoted: “I believe this is going to be precedent setting, for aboriginal communities to have the relationship with the land recognized.”
Clearly much is at stake: not only is Pimachiowin Aki home to some of the world’s most important boreal forest, it stands to deliver a new way of thinking about our land, a way that respects thousands of years of Indigenous tradition and insight. If Manitoba continues to stand firm, our leadership and integrity will be recognized for generations to come.