Issue: 2016-12-14, PHOTO: Dan Davidson
World Heritage Status Project Assistant Molly Shore presents information on Nov. 25 about the Dawson City/Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation bid for the Klondike to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
In just about two-and-a-half months the nomination dossier for the Tr’ondëk/Klondike World Heritage Site will be sent to Paris, France, to UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. It will be evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites.
There are two main types of World Heritage Sites. Some focus on the natural qualities of an area, and tend to become parks. Tr’ondëk/Klondike is in a different category, as a cultural site.
A cultural site is chosen to celebrate human ways of life that can be shown via physical landscapes, traditions, stories, buildings, archaeological remains, artistic expressions and more.
Among the human activity being celebrated here is the long, continuing tradition of mining, stretching back to the Bonanza Creek discovery in 1896, and even before that, to the activity at Forty Mile in the 1880s. That this activity continues on to the present day in one of the things that makes the area unique.
Most mining boom town areas are ghost towns after this much time.
Another unique feature of this nomination is that it includes the much longer history of the local indigenous people, the Hän, represented today as the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation.
Project Assistant Molly Shore made two presentations late in November, one to the community at large on Nov. 25 and the other to the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in General Assembly the next day. The General Assembly is recommending that the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief and Council draft a formal letter of support for the final nomination application.
With the aid of a six minute promotional video Shore described Tr’ondëk/Klondike as “a living, evolving cultural landscape that celebrates the enduring co-existence of the newcomers and the indigenous peoples bound together by the Klondike Gold Rush. The cultural landscape is shaped by activities of the gold rush until the present day, illustrating a relationship between the people and the land.”
Check out the video on the Tr'ondëk Klondike World Heritage Facebook page.
An overview map of the nomination area.
The nomination package has been prepared under the watchful eye of a local advisory committee, including representation from Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the City of Dawson, the Yukon Government, the Klondike Placer Miners Association and citizen reps from both Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the Dawson community.
There is also a project management team, and much of the actual work has been sub-contracted to a number of agencies and organizations. The team is in regular communication with Parks Canada representatives in Ottawa, who have vetted the package at each step of the way.
This project has been a subject of speculation since the 1970s, and became a public objective at the urging of the late Pierre Berton in 1997. By 2004, it had been placed on Canada’s tentative short list, and several versions of a proposal were worked up prior to 2010, when the present project began to take shape under the leadership of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, who had identified it as being important to their regional economic development objectives.
The present advisory committee was convened in 2013 and work began towards developing the first draft of a Statement of Universal Values and identifying places that illustrate these values.
After the submission of the package in February, the region can look forward to a summertime visit by representatives of International Council on Monuments and Sites to make an onsite inspection.
If all goes well, the committee expects to receive World Heritage designation in July 2018.