2 New Brunswick historic sites undeterred after losing UNESCO contest

After a setback, champions of two national historic sites in the Miramichi region are already planning their next bid to be among Canada's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Metepenagiag Heritage Park and Boishébert National Historic Site don't make the Parks Canada shortlist

Metapenagiag Heritage Park's management is still optimistic it will make the cut someday for Canada's tentative list of potential UNESCO World Heritage Site nominees. (Radio-Canada)

After a setback, champions of two national historic sites in the Miramichi region are already planning their next bid to be among Canada's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  

Proponents of Metepenagiag Heritage Park and Boishébert National Historic Site were hoping the sites would be included on Canada's list of tentative UNESCO sites.

As part of Canada 150 celebrations, Parks Canada held a competition for nominations. UNESCO World Heritage designations are considered to have outstanding universal value, both naturally and culturally.  

Patricia Dunnett has been the general manager of the Metepenagiag Heritage Park since 2010. She thinks a UNESCO designation would help spread the archaeological site's story. (Radio-Canada)

"To have a UNESCO designation, it would allow us to share our story more universally with people around the globe," said Patricia Dunnett, the general manager of the Metepenagiag Heritage Park.

Dunnett is the granddaughter of Joe Mike Augustine, who discovered the ancient site, which is about 30 kilometres west of Miramichi.

The park has two nationally recognized historic sites that have yielded thousands of Mi'kmaq artifacts.  

While it didn't make the recent shortlist for a UNESCO designation, Dunnett see plans for the heritage park slowing down.

The park plans a symposium, with invitations going out around the world.

"I think that will then open the doors to researchers to come to Metepenagiag and help us study and help us learn more about our collection."

Claude DeGrâce helped put the application together and will be seeking feedback from Parks Canada. (Radio-Canada)

Claude DeGrâce, the chair of the park's board of directors, said they plan to go back to Parks Canada for feedback and to adjust for the next time.

"I think here we have a good case for eventually making it to UNESCO," he said, although he thinks it could be 10 years before Metepenagiag can be considered again.

The Friends of Beaubears Island also found disappointment when Canada's shortlist was announced. The group hoped Beaubears Island and nearby Wilson's Point, which make up Boishébert, would be designated a UNESCO site. 

The areas are rich in history as a refuge for Acadians, as well as shipbuilders, and the Mi'kmaq before them.

Michael Mersereau said he suspected the odds were stacked against his submission when he made it. (Radio-Canada)

Michael Mersereau, the former president of Friends of Beaubears Island, said the group knew early on the cards were stacked against Boishébert National Historic Site, in an area where many Acadians found refuge after the British expelled them from the East Coast.

"We saw that it was up to us with our own meagre resources to try and compete with governments and federal, provincial, municipal governments," Mersereau said. 

From the Atlantic provinces, only the Heart's Content Cable Station Provincial Historic Site in Newfoundland and Labrador were among the eight sites added to Canada's tentative list of sites for a UNESCO designation.  

Among the eight are Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs, in B.C., and the Yukon Ice Patches.

Forty-two sites took part in the contest.

With files from Michel Nogue