Canada's Tentative List

Pimachiowin Aki, Manitoba and Ontario

Proposed Justification of "Outstanding Universal Value":

Criterion (iii):

Pimachiowin Aki provides the most complete testimony to the ancient and continuing cultural tradition of Ji-ganawendamang Gidakiiminaan (Keeping the Land). Through the beliefs, values, knowledge, and practices embodied in this cultural tradition, Anishinaabeg have lived for millennia with the boreal forest that sustains them.

Criterion (vi):

Pimachiowin Aki is directly and tangibly associated with the living cultural tradition of Ji-ganawendamang Gidakiiminaan through which Anishinaabeg uphold a sacred trust to ensure aki (the land and all its life) is cared for and respected. The deep and abiding connection between Anishinaabeg and the land through Ji-ganawendamang Gidakiiminaan is a compelling example of the inseparability of an indigenous culture and its local environment that can inspire people around the world.

Criterion (ix):

Pimachiowin Aki is the most complete and largest example of the North American boreal shield, including its characteristic biodiversity and ecological processes. Pimachiowin Aki contains an exceptional diversity of terrestrial and freshwater aquatic ecosystems and fully supports wildfire, nutrient flow, species movements, and predator-prey relationships, essential ecological processes in the boreal forest.

Description:

Known as Pimachiowin Aki (“the Land that Gives Life”), this 29,040 km2, internationally recognized network of protected areas is situated in the North American Boreal Shield. For millennia, the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), an indigenous people of this region, have lived intimately with this place in the boreal forest. The area comprises the traditional lands of four Anishinaabe communities as well as adjacent protected areas including Atikaki and South Atikaki Provincial Parks in Manitoba, Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, and the Eagle – Snowshoe Conservation Reserve in Ontario.

Pimachiowin Aki is a living cultural landscape that reflects the beliefs, values and practices that guide Anishinaabe interactions with the land. Cultural attributes dispersed across the landscape include habitation, harvesting, and processing sites, traplines, travel routes, named places, ceremonial sites, and sacred places such as pictographs. Numerous archeological sites throughout the area demonstrate the long occupation by indigenous peoples. Anishinaabe customary governance and oral traditions ensure continuity across generations and reflect an intimate relationship between culture and nature that has preserved the boreal forest of Pimachiowin Aki.

Pimachiowin Aki is located in what would have been the centre of glacial Lake Agassiz. The features left behind by this lake and the impact of these features on ecosystems are evident today in the vast area of healthy boreal forest, wetlands, exposed bedrock, myriad lakes, and long free-flowing rivers that characterize Pimachiowin Aki. The site contains a diversity of terrestrial and freshwater aquatic ecosystems and fully supports wildfire, nutrient flow, species movements, and predator-prey relationships, essential ecological processes in the boreal forest. Four large rivers flowing through the area contribute to its aquatic diversity. One of these rivers, the Bloodvein, is a designated Canadian Heritage River. Pimachiowin Aki supports a high proportion of the North American boreal shield species, including characteristic and iconic species as well as species of conservation concern such as woodland caribou, wolverine, lake sturgeon, leopard frog, and Canada warbler.

The site was one of several protected areas in the circumpolar region recommended at the October 2003 Boreal forest workshop held in Russia for World Heritage consideration. The project area is part of the Midwestern Canadian Shield ecoregion, which is in turn part of the Canadian Taiga Biogeographical Province (Udvardy classification).