By Wendy Elliott
Jubilation brought a room full of waiting people to their feet early June 30 when the Landscape of Grand Pré was inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
There was added suspense, as a decision had been expected a day earlier, but deliberations for other countries’ applications took longer for UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, to sort out.
“Today’s announcement is a tremendous symbolic achievement for the Acadian people whose ancestors persevered through upheaval and peaceful reconciliation leading up to this historic day,” commented Nomination Grand Pré co-chairman Dr. Gerald Boudreau.
Addressing the committee in Russia, Boudreau called the designation a crowning glory for “the site of so much importance to the Acadians and people around the world.”
“We would like to welcome the world to an exceptional landscape with outstanding universal values,” he added.
His co-chairman Peter Herbin said he was “so excited” waiting for the unanimous announcement.
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“I’m very proud,” he said. “We had an exceptional proposal and that’s a testament to Parks Canada. We were able to bring all the communities, all the stakeholders together to share common goals. This story goes far beyond the deportation to the origins of Canada.”
It was Herbin’s great grandfather, John Frederic Herbin, who bought open fields in 1907 to make a memorial park.
Kings South MLA Ramona Jennex, who was on hand shortly after 5 a.m. to wait for news, deemed the announcement “fantastic.
“I would not have missed it for anything. The work that was done here is a real testament to the people of Grand Pré.”
“Grand Pré has long held a special place in the hearts of Acadian and farming communities in this province,” said Jennex. “Now, thanks to this prestigious recognition and the enhanced protection it provides, all Nova Scotians and people from around the world will be able to appreciate and enjoy the area's rich culture and heritage for years to come.”
“This is an incredible source of pride for the people of Kings County and for all Nova Scotians,” said Kings County Warden Diana Brothers.
It’s about celebrating our common heritage, when we can put our differences aside and build something. Claude DeGrace, Nomination Grand Pre
“This is what Canada is,” committee member Claude DeGrace, who arrived from Moncton two days before the announcement, said on the eve of Canada Day. “It’s about celebrating our common heritage, when we can put our differences aside and build something. That’s rewarding.”
A former superintendent at Grand Pré, DeGrace added he “always thinks about Herbin. He started it. (Members of) the local community have been proud custodians of this land.
Grand Pré residents were also overjoyed. Robert Palmeter, whose farm is included in the designated area, said it felt great years of hard work had had a successful conclusion.
Beth Keech pointed out Grand Pré has joined the Great Wall of China and the Great Pyramids of Egypt on the world stage.
“I’m ecstatic, relieved and proud,” she declared.
Click here for more on the World Heritiage Designation.