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Canada's Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai'pi listed as new World Heritage site

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-07-23 15:31

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the addition of Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai'pi as the province of Alberta's sixth World Heritage Site, during the 43rd session of its World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 10.

Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai'pi is an ancient and sacred cultural landscape where Indigenous peoples have created rock art for millennia. Thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs, the greatest concentration of rock art on the Great Plains of North America, represent the powers of the spirit world that resonate in this sacred landscape, and chronicle critical phases of human history in North America, including when Indigenous peoples first came into contact with Europeans.

Áísínai'pi is the name that Blackfoot people use for the area, which means  "it is pictured/written". This ancient name was also formally recognized through the designation of Áísínai'pi as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2004, the same year it was added to Canada's Tentative List for World Heritage.

"Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai'pi is the site of many natural wonders and a testament to the remarkable ingenuity and creativity of the Blackfoot people. It's easy to see why the site is seen by many as an expression of the confluence of the spirit and human worlds. I hope all Albertans will take the time to explore this extraordinary part of the province and all it has to offer," said Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks.

More than 60,000 people visit Writing-on-Stone each year to experience the landscape and its rich history.

Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai'pi contains the most significant concentration of protected First Nations petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the Great Plains of North America. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"The designation of Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai'pi as a UNESCO World Heritage Site provides the Blackfoot Confederacy a basis for its future generations as to the strength and truth of our continuing relationship to this land and to our traditions, ceremonies and cultural practices," said Martin Heavy Head, Mookaakin Cultural and Heritage Society/ Blackfoot Confederacy Elder.

"Writing-on-Stone is an Alberta treasure that draws thousands of visitors annually to take part in interpretive tours and activities led by knowledgeable and passionate staff who love to share the park's unique history," said Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.

Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai'pi contains the most significant concentration of protected First Nations petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the Great Plains of North America. Some of the carvings and paintings date back 2,000 years.

The inscription coincides with 2019 being designated as the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations. Canadians and also visitors are encouraged to help support the revitalization of Indigenous languages in Canada, and are invited to visit Canada's network of heritage places to learn more about Indigenous languages, knowledge, cultures, and traditions.

On June 21, 2019, the Indigenous Languages Act received Royal Assent. The Government of Canada will work with Indigenous representative organizations, Indigenous governments, and provinces and territories for its implementation. To support this implementation, Budget 2019 includes an investment of $333.7 million over five years, and $115.7 million annually thereafter.

There are over 1,000 sites on the World Heritage List worldwide.

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