This sacred Canadian place is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site


writing on stone
Photo: Writing on Stone Provincial Park at Dawn / Shutterstock

An ancient sacred place in Alberta, Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi, is the latest Canadian entry to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Located in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park on the Great Plains of North America, the site attracts thousands of visitors annually. It is the now the sixth UNESCO World Heritage site in Alberta, and the 20th in Canada.

The monument features pillars or hoodoos – columns of rock sculpted by erosion into spectacular shapes. The Blackfoot (Siksikáíítsitapi) people left engravings and paintings on the sandstone walls of the Milk River Valley, and the landscape is considered sacred to them. The engravings date back over 2,000 years to the time they first came into contact with Europeans.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is managed by Alberta Parks, with ongoing guidance from the elders of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs at more than 138 rock art sites graphically represent the powers of the spirit world that resonate in this sacred landscape.

The 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee commenced on June 30 in Baku, Azerbaijan and runs until July 10. During the session, UN members identify properties of “Outstanding Universal Value” that merit protection under the UN Convention.

The committee is comprised of representatives from 21 states, which currently includes Angola, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Cuba, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Spain, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

There are five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in B.C. including: Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve on Vancouver Island, and SGang Gwaay Llnagaay in the Haida Gwaii archipelago.

With files from Relax News.