International Foundation & UWinnipeg Support Unesco Heritage Bid

Martin Owens, Chief, Little Grand Rapids First Nation (centre) receives a cheque of $30,000 from Manitoba Conservation Minister Stan Struthers (left) & UWinnipeg President & Vice-Chancellor Dr. Lloyd Axworthy. Photo: Kelly Morton/

Martin Owens, Chief, Little Grand Rapids First Nation (centre) receives a cheque of $30,000 from Manitoba Conservation Minister Stan Struthers (left) & UWinnipeg President & Vice-Chancellor Dr. Lloyd Axworthy. Photo: Kelly Morton/

WINNIPEG, MB – The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has donated $30,000 to The University of Winnipeg to support the Manitoba-Ontario group leading the bid to have a vast track of Canadian boreal forest designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Foundation has committed the funds to assist two of the First Nations partners of Pimachiowin Aki Corp. to develop their land use plans. The University of Winnipeg will administer the project on behalf of the Foundation.

Advance Vision
The MacArthur support will help the communities of Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi advance their vision for the future use and management of their traditional territories. It will also help to identify the lands to be included within the nomination to UNESCO, said Pimachiowin Aki spokesperson Sophia Rabliauskas (pron: RAH-BLOUS-KISS).

“We are all very excited that such a prestigious organization dedicated to international development would recognize our work as important and we’re lucky to have friends like Lloyd Axworthy to help nominate us for these funds,” said Rabliauskas from her First Nations home in Poplar River, Manitoba.

University of Winnipeg President & Vice-Chancellor Lloyd Axworthy said the University is pleased to be working in partnership with Pimachiowin Aki on this project, adding that land use plans are the foundation of the UNESCO application. He said he recently learned that two of the communities needed help to get their maps, research and consultations completed. (Land use plans for the Ontario and Manitoba provincial parks and Poplar River First Nation in Manitoba and Pikangikum First Nation in Ontario, were started years ago and are complete.)

Protecting & Celebrating 
“The success of the UNESCO bid is something we should all care about whether we are working at a university to educate tomorrow’s leaders or are a foundation in Chicago or living half way around the world. Protecting and celebrating the natural assets and the cultural heritage of the boreal forest is critical to all of us,” Axworthy said.

Manitoba Conservation Minister Stan Struthers said the MacArthur contribution confirms what his government has known all along, that this project has international support.

“Today’s injection of funds will bolster the Manitoba government’s commitment of $531,000 that we announced in May 2009 to assist with traditional lands planning and the UNESCO bid,” said Struthers.

This is the second MacArthur grant administered by The University of Winnipeg that supports land-use planning in the boreal forest. In 2008, Poplar River First Nations received $25,000 for a land-use planning and carbon inventory project designed to demonstrate the importance of the boreal forest as a carbon sink through the creation of a UNESCO heritage site.

About the MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. The Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places and understand how technology is affecting children and society. MacArthur’s grant-making in migration and human mobility seeks to improve the governance of international migration and supports research about the relationship between migration and economic development.

About Pimachiowin Aki
The work of the Pimachiowin Aki Corp. is led by First Nations through a Board of Directors that includes representatives from Pikangikum First Nation in Ontario; Pauingassi, Little Grand Rapids and Poplar River First Nations in Manitoba and the Manitoba and Ontario provincial governments. Its goal is “to safeguard the Anishinabe cultural landscape and the boreal forest as one living system to ensure the well being of the Anishinabe who live there and for the benefit and enjoyment of all humanity. If the Pimachiowin Aki nomination is successful the boreal forest that straddles the Manitoba-Ontario border will join recognized sites like the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Barrier Reef, Taj Mahal and the Canadian Rocky Mountains on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

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Gord Jones, Project Manager, Pimachiowin Aki,
P: 204.275.1564, C: 204.232.8528, E:

Shawn Coates, Director of Marketing and Communications, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7126; C: 204.230.0202, E:

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