Pimachiowin Aki (which means Land that gives life in Ojibwe, ᐱᒪᒋᐅᐃᐧᓂᐊᑭ) is a large proposed UNESCO biosphere reserve and World Heritage Site located in the Boreal Forest that covers parts of Manitoba and Ontario. The proposed project area includes over 43,000 square kilometres (17,000 sq mi) is in similar size to the area of Denmark and would mean that it would be larger than 100 other countries in the world. The project is also supported by five First Nations reserves including Poplar River First Nation, Little Grand Rapids First Nation, Pauingassi First Nation, Pikangikum First Nation, and Bloodvein First Nation. The area also includes the Manitoba Provincial Wilderness Park of Atikaki Provincial Park and the Ontario Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. The proposed World Heritage Site all started with the signing of the Protected Areas and First Nation Resource Stewardship in 2002 by the First Nations of Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi, Poplar River and Pikangikum.
The Pimachiowin Aki Corporation believes there are many benefits to a UNESCO site for resident First Nations peoples such as examples in communities near their own UNESCO sites found a new source of pride in the designated area and they also got more worldwide attention. The Pimachiowin Aki Corp. believes this could mean more visitors and tourists from all over the world, a need for visitor education programs and facilities, accommodations and food services for visitors, more jobs for tour guides, fishing guides, First Nations artists, people to share and teach Anishinabe culture, increased support and help from other organizations, governments, businesses and volunteers to manage the site, and more say over how the land is protected and managed for the future.
Manitoba Hydro initially planned a major hydro wire route through the proposed area called Bipole III. Just days before his retirement as premier, Doer announced that the government would donate $10 million to the trust fund for UNESCO World Heritage site on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. The NDP claimed that an east side Bipole III route would jeopardise the UNESCO site and claimed that a heritage site would benefit First Nations communities more. The NDP proposed a longer, more expensive, alternate line through the west of Manitoba to preserve the environmental integrity of the east side and to support the UNESCO site.
World Heritage Site nomination
In 2004, Parks Canada on behalf of the federal government added the project to Canada's Tentative List of potential World Heritage Sites, under criteria (v), (vii), (ix), and (x). The site was submitted for consideration in 2013. The World Heritage Committee deferred inscription to give the nominators time to improve certain aspects of the bid, while also saying that the Committee needed to improve the nomination process for mixed sites as there were currently structural problems in the process that made approving mixed nominations difficult. In 2016, following modification to the bid, focusing it on the Ojibwe cultural tradition of Ji-ganawendamang Gidakiiminaan (Keeping the Land), the Committee was set to inscribe the property on the List. However, Canada requested and received a deferral after Ontario's Pikangikum First Nation withdrew its support. The bid can be resubmitted until 2019.
- "Pimachiowin Aki - The Land". Retrieved December 1, 2010.
- "Pimachiowin Aki - The People". Retrieved December 1, 2010.
- "Pimachiowin Aki Fact Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved December 1, 2010.
- "Doer announces $10-M UNESCO trust fund". Winnipeg Free Press. 13 October 2009. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
- Ethan Cable (25 November 2009). "West-side line is a $1.4 billion mistake, critics say". The Uniter. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
- UNESCO bid for Manitoba-Ontario boreal forest suffers major blow, CBC News Manitoba, July 17, 2016