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World Heritage: Canada

Periodic Report on the Application of the World Heritage Convention



December 2004



a. Main conclusions

Canada is a prosperous, stable society and benefits from a well-educated professional workforce to support the management of protected natural and cultural heritage areas. Federal, provincial and territorial legislation and municipal authorities contribute critically to protecting the rich diversity of protected areas across the country. Although there remain challenges to heritage protection in Canada, from an international perspective, Canada’s heritage is well-protected.

With respect to World Heritage Sites, this conclusion is supported by the record of the World Heritage Committee’s monitoring of the existing sites in Canada. As described in the report entitled Application of the World Heritage Convention in North America, the Committee has, over a number of years, raised concerns about issues affecting a number of World Heritage Sites in Canada. Upon discussion of these issues, however, the Committee has been satisfied that they are being managed to acceptable standards for World Heritage. No Canadian sites have been inscribed on the List of World Heritage In Danger. Details about factors currently affecting World Heritage Sites in Canada are provided in the site-specific reports included in Section II of this report.

Co-operation between levels of government, between agencies, and between the public and private sectors is central to heritage protection in Canada. Because of the range of responsible authorities, there is no single vision for heritage nor a single plan for its protection. Each jurisdiction has its own objectives and processes, and, collectively, these constitute an integrated, complementary approach. Mechanisms exist to exchange information and co-operate on shared goals.

Similarly, the various authorities responsible for existing World Heritage Sites have taken variable advantage of the potential benefits of this designation. Which sites have been designated is not well-publicized. There is incomplete awareness and understanding in Canada of the World Heritage Convention. This has been identified as an area which merits attention. There are opportunities for the federal government to make a stronger contribution to the World Heritage Convention through better co-ordination among Parks Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency.

Public consultation, support and involvement are central to the Canadian model of heritage protection. Awareness-building is an important element of all management strategies. Both natural and cultural protected areas are impacted by development and activities outside their boundaries. Efforts to minimize these negative impacts by working with others is a critical component of Canada’s protection strategy.

Increased collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, including building capacity in remote communities to manage parks and cultural resources, is a growing element of heritage protection in Canada

Participation in the World Heritage Convention and connection to significant places around the globe reflect Canada’s values as a multicultural society. Canada values the multicultural richness of its population which has originated from all corners of the earth. World Heritage offers one way of reaching the diverse Canadian population by creating links to the countries of origin (recent or distant) of that population. World Heritage represents what is best about the heritage of all people and, as a microcosm of that global population, Canada reflects and reinforces those values.

To the top b. Proposed future actions

As a result of this report, Canada proposes to take the following actions:

  • Create mechanisms to improve communication and build a network among the World Heritage Sites in Canada and the World Heritage Sites in the United States. The co-operation and information-sharing which the writing of this report has engendered will act as the foundation for on-going activities. Together the sites may approach questions like carrying capacity, languages for educational materials, appropriate marketing, and identifying the elements of and delivering a ‘World Heritage Site experience’.
  • Better promote World Heritage in Canada. The Canadian sites are discussing a project to promote co-operatively the World Heritage Sites in this country. Elements of the strategy may include additional identifiers for sites, more co-operative promotional materials, and an enhanced web-presence.
To the top c. Responsible implementing agency(ies)

As the State Party representative, Parks Canada will take the lead on these initiatives, with the support and participation of the provincial and municipal governments which manage World Heritage Sites in Canada and major stakeholder groups.

d. Timeframe for implementation

The proposed actions will be implemented in the coming years. Progress in these areas will be reported in the second periodic report to be submitted by Canada.