While most Canadians don’t need anybody or anything to prove to them just how awesome Canada is, it still feels pretty good when the rest of the world recognizes it, too. Alberta's Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park has been designated as a World Heritage Site, taking the total number of such sites in Canada to 20!
When United Nations members meet during the World Heritage Committee, they consider the sites that have been nominated for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization) recognition and identify locations they believe have “Outstanding Universal Value” and merit certification and protection under the UN Convention.
The Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi be the sixth site to be recognized by the committee in Alberta. The site was nominated for recognition by the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Alberta.
The site is regarded to be culturally and historically significant due to the engravings and paintings left on the sandstone walls by the Blackfoot/Siksikáíítsitapi people, bearing testimony to messages from Sacred Beings.
The art on the walls of the Milk River Valley is believed to date back as far as 1800 BCE, from the first time the Blackfoot people came into contact with Europeans.
The landscape, which remains deeply sacred to the Blackfoot people, attracts thousands of visitors to the site every year. While the Provincial Park is managed by Alberta Parks, they receive ongoing support and recommendations from the elders of the Blackfoot Confederacy.
Speaking in a news release quoted by CBC, Martin Heavy Head, an elder with the Mookaakin Cultural and Heritage Society, said, "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."
This newest addition to Canada’s list of UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Sites takes the grand total of acclaimed sites across the country to 20. This includes nine cultural sites, 10 natural landmarks, and one mixed site. A full and detailed list of all the UNESCO-recognized sites in Canada can be found here.
So, grab your backpack and your map - it's time to start exploring the incredible cultural sites that Canada has to offer!