CNW/ – September 18, 2023 – GATINEAU, QC At the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, yesterday, Tr’ondëk-Klondike, which is situated in the northwest Canadian homeland of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The story of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s experiences and reactions to the remarkably rapid expansion of colonialism in their homeland between 1874 and 1908 is told in Tr’ondëk-Klondike, a World Heritage Site Advisory Committee led by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Government, with support from the Yukon government, the City of Dawson, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), and Parks Canada. Timelines of Indigenous and settler occupation of significant sites around the region are indicated by archaeological and historical evidence, which taken together provide a thorough account of the events that changed the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in way of life.
The Tr’ondëk-Klondike World Heritage site is a serial property made up of eight different heritage sites: Dawson City; Jëjik Dhä Dënezhu Kek’it (Moosehide Village); Fort Reliance; Ch’ëdähdëk (Forty Mile); Ch’ëdähdëk Tth’än K’et (Dënezhu Graveyard); Fort Cudahy and Fort Constantine; Tr’ochëk; Dawson City; and Jëjik Dhä Tthe Zra’y Kek’it (Black City). These locations, which include component sites along sections of the Blackstone and Yukon rivers, together cover 334 hectares of land.
The coexistence of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and settlers over the course of the last 150 years has produced the region’s distinct cultural composition. The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in experience and acclimatization to European colonialism left the landscape with unique features for its cultural heritage that are still present today.
Tr’ondëk-Klondike is now officially recognized as a World Heritage site in Canada. This impressive list of sites includes the Historic District of Old Québec, Wood Buffalo National Park, Nahanni National Park, Gros Morne National Park, and the Rideau Canal.
We are pleased to learn of this development. Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in has been managing the Tr’ondëk-Klondike World Heritage project for more than ten years. We have another chance to share our story, the history of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and our ongoing care for this land since the beginning of time, thanks to Tr’ondëk-Klondike. With this nomination, we pay tribute to the land-stewarding forefathers who came before us and look forward, knowing that future generations would cherish these unique locations.”
Hähkeʀ Darren Taylor, Chief of Tr’ondūk Hwëch’in,
“The Yukon’s terrain was drastically and quickly altered by colonial development in Tr’ondëk-Klondike. Understanding the effects of colonial expansion on the lands, waterways, and Tr’ondūk Hwëch’in requires in-depth contemplation. The World Heritage List has inscribed Tr’ondëk-Klondike, marking a significant milestone that has been achieved through years of hard work and commitment from all those concerned. Congratulation to all those involved in its inscription, including the Tr’ondëk-Klondike World Heritage Site Advisory Committee!”
Parks Canada is overseen by the Honorable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
“When I saw this inscription, my immediate instinct was to pay tribute to everyone who helped and all of the people who put in so much effort to convey the history and ensure that the gold rush narrative would no longer overshadow our past. We no longer have many of these significant contributions with us. We pay gratitude to all the community members, employees, and elders who gave their expertise, energy, and time to this endeavor with this inscription. Tr’ondëk-Klondike’s designation as a World Heritage site affirms what we have long known: this place is extremely sacred to us and it tells a global tale. Many Indigenous peoples have been impacted by the system of oppression left behind by colonialism; it is crucial that we continue to discuss this issue and that people continue to get knowledge about it. This information will be useful to visitors visiting our territory.”
Debbie Nagano is the co-chair of the Tr’ondëk-Klondike World Heritage Site (TKWHS) Advisory Committee and the director of heritage for Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
“After years of arduous labor by Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, I am happy to see Tr’ondëk-Klondike formally inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our government is helping First Nations tell their stories to more Canadians and people around the globe by funding worthwhile initiatives like this one.”
The Honourable Dan Vandal, Northern Affairs Minister, is in charge of CanNor and PrairiesCan.
“We would like to congratulate Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and all the individuals who helped make Tr’ondëk-Klondike a UNESCO World Heritage site. The narrative of the Klondike Gold Rush is finally complete with an important and frequently terrifying perspective provided by Tr’ondëk-Klondike. The Yukon government is honored to have contributed to this significant accomplishment as a partner.”
John Streicker, Yukon government’s minister of tourism and culture
Under the direction of an advisory committee based in the community, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in leads the Tr’ondëk-Klondike inscription project. Along with up to four locals and a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizen, the Committee’s representatives come from the Klondike Visitors Association, Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, Dawson City Museum, Klondike Placer Miners Association, Yukon Chamber of Mines, City of Dawson, Government of Yukon – Tourism and Culture, and Parks Canada – Klondike National Historic Sites.
In order to safeguard and conserve the world’s natural and cultural heritage that is deemed to be of exceptional worth to humanity, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) works to promote these activities.
The idea of World Heritage is unique since it may be used anywhere. Regardless of the region in which they are situated, World Heritage sites are significant to all peoples on the planet.
As Canada’s State Party delegate to the World Heritage Convention, Parks Canada oversees the implementation of the convention domestically and manages the contributions and undertakings of its Indigenous, provincial, territorial, and municipal partners. In addition, 13 of Canada’s 21 World Heritage sites are managed entirely or in part by Parks Canada. Eight more are completely under the control of different authorities, such as provincial, local, or Indigenous ones.
Yukon’s first cultural World Heritage site is Tr’ondëk-Klondike. In 1979, Kluane, Wrangell-St. Elias, Glacier Bay, and Tatshenshini-Alsek, which are situated in Yukon, Alaska, and British Columbia, were inducted as natural World Heritage sites.
At 1,300 people, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in is a First Nation that exercises self-governance. The center of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Traditional Territory is located in north-central Yukon, near the Yukon River.
In order to support Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s UNESCO nomination for Tr’ondëk-Klondike, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) has contributed over $1.4 million. Recent investments made through the Community Readiness and Opportunities Planning (CROP) stream of the Northern Indigenous Economic Opportunities Program (NIEOP), which aims to strengthen Indigenous communities’ capacity for economic development and boost economic development throughout the three territories, total more than $710,000.
Additionally, $99,000 will be made available in 2021 through the Inclusive Diversification and Economic Advancement in the North (IDEANorth) program. This initiative aims to position Northerners in the territories to benefit from Canada’s innovation economy by making fundamental investments in economic infrastructure, sector development, and capacity building.
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