Salish Sea World Heritage Site Application – Summary

Summary of Application, Submitted for consideration of the Salish Sea to Canada’s World Heritage Site Tentative List

Canada’s Tentative List for World Heritage Sites Application Form
Please use Parks Canada’s Information Document – Updating Canada’s Tentative List for World Heritage Sites

as a reference in the completion of this application form.

Print, sign and send your application to: by January 27, 2017
Name Laurie Gourlay
Title and Organization

(if applicable)

Interim Director, Salish Sea Trust
Mailing Address Box 333, Cedar, B.C., V9X 1W1
Telephone 250 722-3444
Site name Salish Sea, Canada
Location / Address The North Salish Sea, Canadian Waters

Inner ocean between Vancouver Island & mainland B.C.

– Strait of Georgia & Strait of Juan de Fuca

Geographic coordinates (latitude & longitude or UTM) IBA – English Bay & Burrard Inlet – Vancouver, B.C. Latitude 49.322° N; Longitude 123.057° W; Salish Sea
Section 2 – Description and History
Section 2A – Description of Site (maximum 200 words)

Provide a brief description of the proposed site, including its main heritage features and relevant geographic characteristics. The main focus should be on those features which are relevant to its Outstanding Universal Value.

A unique inner ocean surrounding an archipelago of islands, between British Columbia’s mainland and Vancouver Island, the shores and waters now known as the Salish Sea have been home to the Coast Salish for ten thousand years.
Rich in biodiversity its marine ecosystems support 3000 species, with humpback whales returning and resident orca pods among its higher orders.

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, estuaries brimming with new life, the songs and birds of two continents humour one and all in this Pacific flyway. A living heritage, the sacred and spiritual customs and traditions are strong, a renewed pride and sense of place among the First Nations sharing these coastal waters.

Breathe in the ocean air, listen to waves rippling through sandy beaches, carving out rocky headlands. Watch the ebb and flow of kelp beds and flotsam adrift in the tidal flush from the outer reaches of the Pacific Ocean. Recognize a Canadian identity being shaped by the bounty of nature and the promise of a community of communities.

The history, culture and nature of the Salish Sea and its peoples offer us insight into sustainability, the beginnings of great nations, and an inherent local promise in the world’s common future.

Section 2B – History and Development of the Site (maximum 200 words) Provide a brief history of the proposed site, including significant events and the development of its major heritage features.
The Salish Sea was named in 2010, in honour of the Coast Salish peoples who have inhabited these ocean waters since the last ice age. The sea provided sustenance, safe passage, trading as well as migratory routes along the west coast. Customs and traditions, spiritual beliefs and stewardship principles nurtured and guided harvesting, ceremonies, and a community of practice.

Drawn from the generous bounty of the earth a spiritual culture took shape, the natural world and ways of the salmon and wildlife recorded in elaborate carvings, totem poles, dugout canoes and the craftsmanship of Coast Salish art, masks and clothing.

Gazing over the Salish Sea it is easy to imagine the First Peoples watching as outposts and colonies of European settlement took shape. Coal Tyee’s paddle to Victoria, with a canoe full of coal, greatly increasing western interests, investment, exploration and development throughout the region.

Introduced diseases led to the decline of indigenous population and culture, furthered by assimilation policies, the banning of potlatches, and residential schools removing children from their communities.

As Courts uphold their rights however, Canada’s promise of ‘reconciliation and healing’ finds First Nation culture and pride again highlighting nature’s

protection, and sustainability’s allure regaining prominence.
Section 3 – Proposed Outstanding Universal Value (OUV)
Section 3A – Justification for adding the Site to Canada’s Tentative List

Propose why the site may have Outstanding Universal Value. OUV encapsulates why the site is of importance to all humanity. The description should summarize the main attributes which demonstrate the site’s OUV. It should be written with careful reference to the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. (maximum of 200 words)

Formed epoch’s ago, when drifting land masses collided with the North American continent, tectonic forces of the San Juan fault formed a trough, an inner sea that ocean tides poured into, nutrients mixing with massive freshwater and biomass flows of the mighty Fraser River, and hundreds of streams and creeks from the surrounding coastal mountain range.

Feeding the salmon, estuaries and wetland reaches of significant bird and wildlife sanctuaries the Salish Sea’s superlative ecosystems offer outstanding biodiversity within scenes of astonishing beauty, inspiring and humbling, a masterpiece of creation.

The Salish Sea’s spiritual values find a home here in the Coast Salish art, customs and beliefs integrated throughout their way of life. A civilization of the ages, steeped in legend and stories, song and dance, potlatches of giving, and a never-ending bounty of nature, ten thousand years in the making. Met these past two centuries by a European predisposition of dominion over nature.

Worlds of heritage, cultural and natural interplay, an intersection of western civilization and indigenous peoples, evident and in transition in the Salish Sea.

The Salish Sea embodies this iconic Canadian identity, defining and describing an evolving relationship between people and nature, across a great divide of cultures.

Section 3B – Proposed Outstanding Universal Value by criteria

State which one or more of the 10 criteria for Outstanding Universal Value are being proposed for this site and describe briefly why each was chosen.

*Refer to Parks Canada’s Information Document – Updating Canada’s Tentative List for World Heritage Sites or the Operational Guidelines for the definition of each criterion.

World Heritage criterion


Why was this criterion chosen? (max 50 words)


The Salish Sea was named recently in honour of the Coast Salish peoples, who have inhabited the region and ocean
waters for 10,000 years.

An ancient culture with spiritual practices based on a relationship with the land and waters the people, communities, art and goods reflect their bonds with nature.



Shaped by nature the Coast Salish exemplify a culture in equilibrium for millennium. Those of European descent instituted a philosophy and practice of dominion over nature.

As one culture shifts to embrace development, the other seeks sustainability. The balance offers potential and promise in a changing and challenging world.



The Salmon Capital of the World, 3000 species in a unique inner ocean, hemmed by the Cascade volcanic arc and Vancouver Island Coastal mountains, the massive freshwater rush from the Fraser river mixes with the Pacific’s tidal pulse, sweeping daily throughout the Salish Sea’s archipelago of islands, inlets and fjords.
Section 3C – Authenticity of the site (*for cultural criteria only)

Describe the authenticity of the site. Authenticity concerns the measure of how well and how truthfully a site’s features express potential OUV. (maximum of 100 words)

The Coast Salish are renewing their culture and practices, while recovering the means to determine and govern themselves, as unceded territories and settlements are negotiated.

A renewed presence and confidence places Coast Salish central in planning and management of lands and waters of the Salish Sea. And ceremonies, gatherings and events continue to grow yearly.

With renewed authority come responsibilities to address climate change, biodiversity and resource challenges evident in the Salish Sea’s future. And all such matters are being looked at in partnership with the communities, governments and First Nations which share such responsibilities around the Salish Sea.

Section 3D – Integrity of the site (for both cultural and natural criteria)

Describe the integrity of the site. Integrity is a measure of the completeness or intactness of the features that convey proposed OUV. Key areas to consider are wholeness, adequate size, and absence of threats. (maximum of 100 words)

The OUV are met within the proscribed Canadian waters. The Salish Sea will continue to face similar challenges to ecosystem integrity as we see underway worldwide, but the increasing sustainable development ‘ethic’ bodes well for innovative and progressive solutions.

The international boundary with the United States does not pose a difficulty as tidal waters disperse and flush regardless; and habitat is better, waters clearer, and biodiversity greater for Canada’s northern half of the Salish Sea.

Neither will migratory routes be affected for marine life. Coast Salish relationships across borders remain strong, with annual Gatherings and regular events shared.

Section 3F –Identify whether the site addresses a particular gap or under- represented area or theme on the World Heritage List.

*Note this is not a requirement, but evidence that a site helps address a gap in the World Heritage List can help substantiate the relevance of your application.

In terms of possible gaps that we are addressing with this Salish Sea WHS application:

We are submitting a mixed cultural and natural TL application, specific to a coastal site – along the west coast of North America, where there is an under- representation of both WHS submissions and marine sites.

Our application also addresses a living indigenous culture, offering a perspective and aspect of our Canadian identity, while being very pertinent to considerations for climate change.

Within the UNESCO Global Strategy our application attends to matters of settlement, transportation and migration routes, as well as co-existence with nature.

We also see substantial opportunity for a trans-boundary application to be advanced into the Puget Sound (US) side of the Salish Sea in the future, again in terms of a mixed cultural and natural marine site.

And there may similarly be potential to expand in a ‘serial’ process, onto land represented by significant cultural sites that are linked to the Coast Salish in the Salish Sea basin; and/or to a representative site of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, part of the continental volcanic arc that extends through the adjacent mainland coastal mountain ridge.

Should this latter interest generate sufficient support we would also be in touch with Ocean Networks at the University of Victoria, with respect to their Cascadia sub-duction zone monitoring of tectonic/vulcanism activity, relevant

to the San Juan plate and fault off the outer Vancouver Island coast.
Section 5 – Protection and Management
Section 5A – Demonstrate how the property has adequate long-term legislative, regulatory, institutional and/or traditional protection. If protection measures are not currently in place, indicate what protection mechanism will be afforded the property in the near future, and include a supporting letter from the relevant authority. (maximum of 100 words) 98
The Minister of Transport publicly responded to such considerations in January…

“The government is working with indigenous and coastal communities to develop and deliver measures that directly affect them and to protect sensitive areas such as the Salish Sea 10.

Transport Canada is working with many other federal departments, including… to address plans for climate change, fisheries and aquaculture, and ensure the protection of coastal habitat and marine ecosystems.

Through the Oceans Protection Plan, the federal government will set up a Coastal Restoration Fund (and) …investments will be made in the preservation and restoration of vulnerable coastal marine ecosystems.”

Section 5D –List any community groups and/or major stakeholders with an interest in the site and provide a brief summary of their views regarding its proposed inclusion on the Tentative List. Summarize any discussions you’ve had with your provincial / territorial parks or heritage department regarding your application. (maximum of 200 words)

*Please annex any related letters of support (encouraged but not required). Information regarding community and stakeholder interest, including letters of support, can be submitted up until April 30, 2017.24

In all our outreach we have generated interest and support. Not as much as we might have wished, but the holidays demanded many people’s attention. We did get good returns on our investment however.

We’ve met several times with representatives of approximately twenty civil society organizations, produced a Salish Sea WHS ppt and presented twice to the Islands Trust, and requested information from the manager of the proposed federal/provincial Southern Strait of Georgia NMCAR.

Over the five months, since we started our outreach, we’ve sent three emails with background information to all Members of Parliament, and all B.C. Members of the Legislative Assembly – inviting support and advice.

We’ve also distributed information through e-mail lists and press releases; and enjoyed discussions with Parks Canada and ICOMOS Canada representatives.

And we established a Facebook page, Website and Twitter account to post related Salish Sea and WHS information; and produced a 40-page E-Booklet, free as a download, with the help of two National Geographic supporters and the ceo of a national writer’s federation. Quite a few professionals have assisted.

We have not however requested letters of support, knowing there is until the end of April to attach these to our submission.

For further information, or a copy of the complete application, contact:

Salish Sea Trust, Box 333, Cedar, B.C., V9X 1W1

250.722.3444, <> (