BY WENDY ELLIOTT
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Kings County Warden Diana Brothers voiced the general consensus when she said, “we are looking forward to the time that this beautiful, rich community of Grand Pre is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
“I think Grand Pré is a place the whole world should come and see.”
Three levels of government and key stakeholder groups were on hand to sign letters of commitment in support of the UNESCO proposal Jan. 21. A community celebration was held at the visitors’ centre to mark the milestone in the process of nominating Grand Pré as a cultural landscape.
Canada is now ready, said federal cabinet representative Peter MacKay, to submit the proposal for consideration to the World Heritage Centre at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris.
“Our government has been a proud partner in the process to nominate Grand Pré as a World Heritage Site. We’ve worked closely with local residents and Acadian communities to ensure this beautiful part of our province receives the recognition it deserves,” said MacKay.
“I'm sure that Grand Pré will earn UNESCO’s recognition as an international treasure,” he noted, adding his congratulations: “bon chance.”
“This is an exciting moment for all of us and a great reason to celebrate,” said Gérald Boudreau, co-chairman of Nomination Grand Pré.
The group responsible for preparing the nomination dossier, Boudreau said, has “been working very hard on this proposal since 2007 - the local residents, the farmers, the Acadians.”
“We’re proud of the proposal and hope that we’ll be successful,” added Peter Herbin, also co-chairman.
Throughout the process, Herbin said, the Nomination Grand Pré Advisory Board worked to instill a strong sense of shared pride, accomplishment and vision involving the many local community groups and Acadian organizations.
The nomination proposal for the landscape of Grand Pré aims to focus the world’s attention on the agricultural value of the dykes and on the symbolic importance of the landscape to Acadians worldwide.
"We thank Nomination Grand Pré and its partners for their efforts," said David Wilson, N.S. Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage. "A successful designation represents an opportunity to connect more visitors with the story of Grand Pré, further strengthening Nova Scotia's tourism industry and better positioning Grand Pré and the province as a heritage destination."
Société Nationale de l’Acadie representative Amely Friolet-O’Neil said Grand Pré is “home to us.” She added the place where “our ancestors suffered so” should be designated because of its importance to the history of the new world.
The formal evaluation of the proposal by the World Heritage Committee's advisory body, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), is expected to take 18 months. A potential decision is envisioned, at the earliest, by July 2012.
If accepted, Grand Pre would join some world-famous sites, such as the Egyptian pyramids and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Canada currently has 15 world heritage sites, including Lunenburg and Joggins.