Willows Beach Archaeological Site Landowner to Appeal, Again

These darn, hidden sites that no one expects: archaeology at the Willows Beach Site, ca. 1990. (Not the MacKay Property) Source: Millennia Research 1990.

I apologize to readers from afar who may not be interested in the apparently parochial matter of a local woman’s encounter with archaeology on the Oak Bay waterfront, and the incomplete journalism which accompanied it.

But with the news Saturday (PDF*) that the Willows Beach landowner, Wendi MacKay, intends to appeal the earlier decision of Justice Fitzpatrick to the B.C. Court of Appeal, it becomes possible this case (previously 1, 2) will have repercussions for the practice of archaeology across the entire province.  I hadn’t really thought about the implications of an appeal since, well, Fitzpatrick (section 33-38)] essentially says, “I would find the case in your favour if I could, but you gave up your rights to appeal, so I can’t.”

I might be calling wolf in my fears aired below.

But, bear with me.

Now, unlike Ms. MacKay, I am no lawyer with a specialty in B.C. governmental administrative process, nor is my name on a guidebook for land conveyancing.  I don’t claim to understand all the details of contracts, due diligence, real estate transactions, binding arbitration**, and so forth.

So I will make only a couple of general comments, below.

1. As I understand it, appeals are supposed to be based on procedural matters of law or its interpretation, not the facts of the case, which Fitzpatrick accepts were mutually agreed by the parties at arbitration.  Therefore the appeal can’t be about whether MacKay as an individual paid too much for archaeology, or planned too little, or did enough “due diligence”.  It can only be about matters of law arising from her arbitration case.   So, let’s revisit the arguments which MacKay brought forward at her first appeal (see this earlier comment):

[Fitzpatrick Section 8] The essence of her claim is twofold :

(a)      that the Branch did not have the statutory authority to require her to obtain and pay for s. 14 permits and the associated inspection and investigation work as a condition of issuing the s. 12 permit; and

(b)      the Branch’s requirements constituted a nuisance, since they interfered with her use and enjoyment of the property.

Either of these contentions, if supported, would surely require a radical revision of the B.C. Heritage Conservation Act.  The first, (a) would presumably gut the Act by crippling or even eliminating the permit system.  (The Archaeology Branch issues permits to conduct archaeological work in the Province; simplistically put: such a permit must be obtained before altering any archaeological site, whether previously recorded or not).

Also, see the key words “and pay for s 14 permits“, perhaps *cough* eliminating the consulting archaeology industry in B.C.

The second, (b) essentially would declare that implementation of the Act through the requirement to hire an archaeologist constitutes “a nuisance”,  presumably opening the way for compensation of the type which MacKay asked for.  Remember, Judges don’t write or refine or tweak legislation – they uphold it, or strike it down.  The Court of Appeal could, I think, do either.

Earlier, I called Fitzpatrick’s decision a “roadmap” for the destruction of the Heritage Conservation Act and the conduct of archaeology in its current form in B.C.  It appears MacKay is intending to follow that roadmap.

2. It is therefore useful to recall that MacKay is not merely a common citizen seeking justice with the help of a lawyer; she is herself a lawyer with substantial expertise in exactly those issues likely to be in play in her appeal.  While any court case should be won or lost on its merits alone, it is also true that having a good lawyer doesn’t hurt.  And if MacKay chooses to sit at her kitchen table, look out over Oak Bay in the evenings, and spend hundreds of hours of her free time doing legal research and preparing arguments to feed to her counsel, well …. you can see where this heads.  If she chooses, she will be a formidable adversary for the Archaeology Branch, and therefore by extension for the Heritage Conservation Act.

3. So of course we wish to see a motivated Archaeology Branch both willing and able to argue the other side.  Willing – yes, I am sure.  But “able” is more of a political decision, and the new Premier, Christy Clark, is widely thought to be in need of appeasing the right wing of her Liberal Party.   How much of a fight will the  branch be allowed to put up?  If the “nuisance issue” was thought to have implications for a broad range of necessary legislation, then a tough fight indeed, perhaps.  But, the branch has recently moved ministries, so they may not have the complete set of relationships needed for close support.  If, as rumoured, there is an early Provincial Election, then the last thing the governing party would want is to have to defend legislation that can be painted as a hindrance to development, a burden on land title, and a cost to home owners.  Pressure might mount, then, to cut a deal with MacKay to protect existing legislation and buffer the political winds.

4.  If that analysis of the road ahead is correct, it is kind of futile to go on to any more points, right?  We’d be getting into “other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play?” territory.  Oh well, futility never stopped me before – indeed, some say it is my calling card.

5.  I am tired of only hearing one side of this story, the landowners.  To its credit, this new article has some very powerful points of view expressed by First Nations’ people.  While welcome, it is surprising that both quoted are from Tseycum, its not clear why a Songhees voice is not heard.  The article also has a generic, bloodless, passionless statement from a Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources spokesman, which is an improvement of sorts over the thundering silence from the government side so far.

But, where are the archaeologists?  What is the B.C. Association of Professional Archaeologists doing about this kind of thing?  You heard it here first: the Willows Beach case may threaten their very profession. Admittedly, the BCAPA is a voluntary organization with no legislated standing (unlike, say, being a nurse or a doctor, you don’t need to belong to the professional organization of archaeologists to practice archaeology).  But, even if we consider it to be a self-appointed interest group then surely it needs to do some lobbying? Couldn’t they at least put a press release on their slick new website to the effect of “Willows Beach: More than Meets the Eye”?  Archaeology is getting killed in the press these days.   Equally, Simon Fraser University has a program in Cultural Resource Management, and at least one faculty member who specializes in the topic of Public Archaeology and CRM.  What about the ASBC?  Everyone needs to chip in, especially those in leadership positions.

6. Getting off my high horse for a minute here, a few details of the new story, if accurate, are also of interest.

First, this bit:

Mackay was told initially that she would have to pay $5,000 for an archeologist to inspect the lot. The work exceeded the estimate and took longer than expected.

Then she was told a second permit costing $42,000 was needed.

Mackay lost trust in the first consultant and hired another, which quoted $51,000.

After three months of digging, Mackay asked the firm for an accounting and was told the price was $62,000 so far, and the work was only half done.

She was told a trench had to be dug under the foundation which had already been poured. The $600 estimate turned into an $8,000 bill. “At that point I started to get a bit frantic,” Mackay said. She had paid about $70,000 in archeology costs but the required report to the government was not done.”***

MacKay, as a lawyer, should have no problem reading  and understanding a contract, including the fine print.  Obviously I don’t know the details, but I presume that any escalation of costs would have been legal under the contract, or else MacKay would simply have pursued the archaeologists in small claims court, and won handily.  Nonetheless, it also seems that, in common with the Englishman River case, there is the appearance of archaeologists not quite getting the point across to landowners of the danger of escalating costs, and the transparent provision for the same, in contracts.   Possibly this is being inadequately reported, but there must be more to the story of ratcheting costs than meets the eye.****

Also, consider this from the quote above: “She was told a trench had to be dug under the foundation which had already been poured.” This barely makes sense.  If the archaeologist did not approve the foundation, and if the report was not yet finished, then wouldn’t pouring that foundation constitute a violation of the Heritage Conservation Act?  I mean, you don’t just have to hire an archaeologist, you’re supposed to listen to what they say (I believe this was at the root of the Cadboro Bay incident from a couple of years back).  On the other hand, if the archaeologist approved the foundation to the point of pouring cement, then on what basis do they later say a trench needs to go underneath it?  Archaeological booboo?  On the other, other hand, if she poured her foundations then had to move them, I can understand some of the excess costs of construction.  I am confused, and this is why I sincerely want to see an accounting of the $600,000 claim the landowner is making against the taxpayers of the Province.

7.  The Times-Colonist story reads, “The archeological dig turned up stone chips that could have come from the making of tools. There were also very small fragments of bones but it was not clear if they were human or animal, said Mackay.”

I don’t think this was all that was found.  Maybe it was, in which case 70,000 might have been a bit steep.   I do think that we need to address the subtext:  if MacKay has indeed paid $70,000 and feels that nothing was found or can’t articulate the findings more fluently, well, that alone is indeed a problem for the discipline.  How can we get the story out that archaeological research, including CRM archaeology, has meaningful results? We, all archaeologists – academic, private, government –  really, really need to find a way to express the meaning of discoveries, and not just fall back on lame “you have to do it, it’s the law” excuses.

I am sure many  landowners who grudgingly have to accommodate archaeology would do so more willingly if they felt something worthwhile was being learned, and/or something worthwhile was being saved.  And the court of public opinion (in this case, court is in session at The Blethering Place Tea House, I like to think) would have a lot more to consider over crumpets.

Without the stories, you have a black box which takes their money in one side and spits jargon out the other.  We can do better.*****

8.  Maybe MacKay’s appeal will be a tempest in a teapot, but I don’t think so.  I think this has the potential to be a landmark case in B.C. Archaeology, and, especially given Fitzgerald’s roadmap, I think it has a good chance of turning out badly for the Province.  Am I reading more into this appeal than I should?

If it turned out as a result of an appeal judgment that the B.C. government needed to create a fund to help landowners with costs of archaeological protection, there might indeed be some good things along the way.  As Fitzgerald points out, the practice of archaeology and the statutory requirements to conserve heritage must be reconciled with:

protecting the interest of a private landowner in having the right to control and enjoy her own property as she wishes, without interference from the state and without the state requiring that the landowner fund activities on the land in what can only be described as a public interest endeavour.

That could be a recipe for destruction, or for creation of something better than the current system.  I’d like to hear opinions.  Eggs, or omelettes?  Archaeological advocates, start your whisks.


Yes, I include footnotes.  Deal with it.

* the point of the PDF is to make a stable record.  The Times-Colonist  uses very unstable URLs and a lot of links I have made to their stories are dead within a few months – and available nowhere, not even on their website through all the crafty searching I can muster.  Since the newspaper apparently does not think their own content has enduring value, I will assert through a screen shot that it does, indeed. Ironic, really, that the British Colonist from 1858 is more accessible and stable online than is the Times-Colonist from 2009.

** Though, if you can appeal an arbitration result, how binding is it, really?  I mean, really.  That’s like the opposite of binding.

*** I note the Times-Colonist is now careful to say, “Excavation of this property in 2007 wound up requiring an archeological impact assessment permit, which was part of a total $600,000 bill,” thereby abandoning their earlier insinuations that the archaeological bill in itself was $600,000.  Who knows, maybe they read this blog 🙂

**** I think the consulting archaeologist is probably hampered by a confidentiality clause in their contract with the client, which seems unfair if the client is able to discuss the details, but there is no ability to rebut.  Is this correct?

***** It is for this pragmatic reason alone that  we must work powerfully together with First Nations cultural specialists.  Some archaeologists still don’t think so.  Some First Nations may not as well.  But this is the single most important thing to do: tell some of the stories of places like Willows Beach more effectively than “stone chips” and “fragments of bone”.


47 responses to “Willows Beach Archaeological Site Landowner to Appeal, Again

  1. Great post Quentin. It seems to me likely that the possible implications of the appeal would likely only apply to privately held lands. The Province would still have the right to set the rules on Crown Land.
    From a legal perspective I do however wonder if there is not a legal responsibility to protect archaeological resources (on private or public lands) on behalf of First Nations in the absence of a treaty agreement? However flawed, the Heritage Conservation Act does at least provide some level of protection to archaeological sites. Striking it or large parts of it down could have much larger legal implications.


  2. Hi Muftee,

    I wonder about that. If archaeology is a “nuisance”, that is, Fitzpatrick’s “interfered with her use and enjoyment of the property”, then who is to say that only applies to real estate property? Maybe it could apply to mineral rights, which can be owned, bought and sold, etc? I am not feeling too cocky.

    Anyway, the first point, (a) of her appeal was, as summarized by Fitzgerald, an attack on the coupling of Section 12 to Section 14, and as such threatens the Act across the board I think. “that the Branch did not have the statutory authority to require her to obtain and pay for s. 14 permits and the associated inspection and investigation work as a condition of issuing the s. 12 permit.” Fitzgerald seems to slap that one down harder, but all bets are off at the Court of Appeal.

    Anyhow, if there is a loophole that a right-leaning government can squeak through to make it easier to build a mine, dam, or mansion, they just might. If they have to start saying, “well, the HCA might or might not apply but we want you to do this anyhow” then how many companies will? At the biggest scale of project we would see a lot of side deals with First Nations, but smaller operations would stickhandle.

    Having slept on it, I do wonder if the end game here isn’t that the landowner is applying a powerplay to frighten the government into coughing up the $600,000. That might be a short term release, but the road map exists now and someone else would just go down that path. Might as well sort it out now.

    Re: the second point: there might be, but it might be argued that in the absence of a Provincial Act that burden of protecting “evidence of an aboriginal right” fell to the Federal Government? The Kitkatla CMT case was about that, and it was a close run thing that the Act wasn’t struck down as not being within Provincial jurisdiction per the Constitution, if I recall correctly.

    I don’t need to remind you that there is currently no federal archaeological protection legislation.

    As I said, this may just be me being all doom-and-gloom and the Court of Appeal will probably just re-affirm Fitzgerald!


  3. Sue Montgomery

    Quentin, I just want to thank you for your commentary on this issue. Very, very well done summaries. Wish the lawyers for both sides would read it. I’ve been posting a link to your blog on an SFU Facebook page where there has been much discussion. I am not any longer in the archaeology biz, but I like to keep informed as to what is going on in the province.


  4. Quentin, I agree with your query about the lack of public involvement by the BCAPA and the ASBC. I’ve written to the presidents of both organizations with that view and a link to your blog pieces on the Willows Beach site. The barbarians cannot be allowed to win.


  5. Pingback: News – 27 March 2011 | Northwest Coast Maritime Heritage

  6. Sue, thanks. Make sure the SFU facebookers know they can post here as well, or maybe they would like to summarize their discussion points or conclusion into one big comment. It would be good to have a window into what they think – that is, I am poking the issue to get people talking as much as anything.

    Mike – oh! Well, it would indeed be good to hear from them in some venue or other. The ASBC in particular, as a voluntary organization, can’t have too high a bar set for them. The fact it is fragmented into three chapters probably makes it harder for momentum to build and as a result it punches below its weight. I’d be surprised if the BCAPA wasn’t watching the case. I know it is end of March fiscal madness though.

    This instance might blow over but like I said, someone else will try the road-map, so it is only a matter of time. And, is there any political will to try to fix the legislation if indeed it has an Achilles heel in the language around permits? Right now, I would say, obviously no political will on the government side. And, I don’t recall the NDP ever being that big a friend of archaeology either, to be honest. Some time I should go over the proposed heritage-related private member bill the Esquimalt NDP MLA Maurine Karaginianis has put forward on at least one occasion – maybe it has some merits.


  7. part of the public engagement also comes down to making more genuine efforts to compile and synthesize archaeological information collected from previous projects on the same site and frankly discussing ‘whats known’ and ‘whats not known’ for particular sites and micro-regions (e.g., Oak Bay) and then design strategies that address those gaps for particular sites.


  8. Just to be clear, the Millennia photo used was not taken on Ms Mackay’s property, but on the street a block away. The presence of intact stratigraphy beneath asphalt was at the time rather surprising. I think that is Clinton Coates and Laurie Williamson at the screen? Millennia’s done quite a few project at this site. We attempted some synthesis and public awareness through the 8 x 4 ft interpretive panel for ‘Sitchanlulth’ mounted on the side of the Willows Beach swimsuit changing rooms.


  9. Morley – thanks. I edited the caption to make that clear. I’ve never seen the interpretive panel you mention but will seek it out. Chances of me doffing a swimsuit are approximately nil, though. It’s interesting to know there is a large sign close at hand which presumably notes this is an archaeological site – makes me wonder how many local residents and landowners have stopped to read it and what conclusions they might draw from it regarding their own piece of the waterfront.

    Iain – on my more negative days I don’t think we are really learning anything novel from the vast majority of these (expensive) consulting projects. Can’t say about this one until I’ve seen the report (which someone told me isn’t finished yet anyway) but really, how many more disconnected and uncoordinated holes in the ground do we need. Maybe the money should just go to First Nations to support an indigenous archaeology and cultural history program. If archaeologists can’t or won’t explain themselves then that might well be an improved direction.

    What I mean is, archaeologists need to write real human history-as-a-story, in addition to their careful descriptions of stones and bones. There is no real reason why consultants should be discharged of this responsibility. I know “storytelling” makes a funny line item in a proposed budget but let’s figure out a way to make it happen nonetheless.


  10. Ouch. I am stunned and appalled by the level of apathy and duplicity found in the public and in Ministers. Yet, reading your post, I am heartened by the dedication of enlightened individuals to defeat the forces of ignorance. It is nothing more than I expect. Thank you.


  11. This is exceptionally frightening in light of the lack of Federal Heritage Legislation because Heritage Laws in Quebec and Ontario are quite different in terms of homeowner rights than they are in BC. With her supposed legal expertise the plaintiff will have lots of time to do research because of the slow appeal process.
    The initial judgment found that the Branch did not act out of Accordance with the HCA, so a logical legal conclusion is that the homeowner did not fulfill her responsibility. Seems to me she should be taking it up with whoever she purchased the property from. Savary Island lost tons of money last summer due to lack of preparation during their dredging-fees which the Island Trust, composed of individuals who live/vacation there absorbed I believe (if someone knows more about this please correct me). People pay for laws they did not know about all the time. Is it the laws fault, or is their failing as a Citizen? Mackay seems to have undermined the law by hiring her construction company without considering the length of time necessary for the investigation. Realtors and Homeowners need to catch wind of what Developing Companies already know. This is a major site. People are so insensitive to Heritage that is not ‘their own’ per say, yet it matters not to them that it composes part of the history of this country.


  12. skeptical archaeologist

    The stated purposes of the Archaeological Society of B.C. (ASBC) are found here:

    To paraphrase what I think we mean them to say: “To help protect B.C. heritage, and to protect it mainly by educating the public.” The assumption here is that the more you educate people about heritage, the more they will want to preserve it. And by “educate” we mean, don’t we, convert people to our own mushy, humanist, heritage-nerd points of view? From their ignorant, greedy, economic-bottom-line-first point of view? I know I do.

    But when, in any area of human experience, has this ever worked – that one well-meaning, enlightened, righteous ideology has talked a majority of the opposite well-meaning, enlightened (from their point of view), righteous ideology to their argument?

    I am sorry to say, but it’s my opinion that in order to change the way heritage is treated in B.C., the dominant political ideology of its citizens would have to change – no more, no less. The archaeological work that gets done here is “managed” by the Archaeology Branch, but not financed by them; the Archaeology Branch is of course controlled by Provincial politicians; the Federal government strategically provides no heritage act and negligible funding; and the voters elect the politicians in both places. The dominant assumption of all the above parties is that whatever furthers the economic bottom line, free enterprise, development, resource exploitation, lower taxes, etc., is good, and whatever doesn’t – is not. Archaeology is not.

    Archaeology is perceived by them as slowing development, costing money (profits, or taxes), and allowing First Nations to dictate what can happen on private property. The rub for us, is that indeed all these things can be/have been true. We can’t argue that those perceptions are false, only that WE think that there’s nothing wrong with them. We believe that rich people (the only ones who can afford to build houses on the waterfront, where most of the shell midden sites are) should pay to preserve at least some knowledge of the heritage that they are destroying. That’s our ideology. Do we want to change our ideology? No? Then should we expect that other people will change theirs?

    Back to educating people about archaeology: It’s been my repeated experience to be approached by members of the public (and even of the ASBC!) who are enthusiastic about finding out about archaeology. I might be excavating downtown where members of the public can walk up and look over my shoulder. After telling me that I have the coolest job in the world and that they always wanted to be an archaeologist too, and asking how old that artifact is that I have in my hand, they invariably ask me who I work for – the government? The university? The museum?

    I tell them I’m a private consultant. Who pays me then? The developer pays me – she’s required by law to do so. You mean, they say, furrowing their brow, that if I was building an addition and found some shell midden in my back yard, I’d have to pay you to come dig it up? I say yes, basically (explaining various circumstances where that might not happen, or could be minimized, why archaeology is important, etc). If I’ve not already been cut off, they then say, “That sucks! That’s not right! Archaeology sucks!” And they turn on their heels and walk away.

    The Man On The Street spoke. Educating some people about heritage makes them want to preserve it LESS. And a lot of people seem to have the magical belief that funding for the government, universities, and museums comes from something other than their (tax) money.

    There used to be an office of the Provincial Archaeologist in B.C. If a private homeowner or a government ministry was about to or had already impacted an archaeological site, you called them up and they investigated. Then a new government came into power (was it the early 1980’s?), and got rid of the office of the P.A. (“Why should tax-payers pay for work done on private land? We can lower government expense by eliminating this office, and privatize the work it used to do.”) Thus was born the situation we have at present, with private archaeological consultants paid by landowners and developers. And now, every developer who goes to a newspaper complaining about the unfairness of having to pay for archaeological work seems to think that someone else should pay for it – “the Government”, i.e. the taxpayers.

    The wonderfully ironic (if that’s the right word) thing here is that the same people who would have ideologically opposed public funding for archaeology, and applauded the elimination of the Provincial Archaeologist, now seem to want public funding, for ideological reasons.



  13. skeptical archaeologist

    Why have there been so few statements from the ASBC?

    I can’t speak for the ASBC, but I am a member. Why haven’t I gone to the papers more? My reasons:

    1. I can’t get the facts – they’re secret. Usually, the only people who know the facts of a particular case are the archaeological consultant and some employees of the Archaeology Branch, neither of whom is free to share the details (confidentiality agreements). If I happen to have first-hand knowledge of a case because I’m the consultant involved, I know that I can’t trust what I read in the newspapers, because they seem to be consistently, frustratingly, obtusely, wrong-headedly (deliberately? – you have to wonder) wrong. If I happen to hear the facts around town, I can’t let on in public that I know them because I could get the people who passed them on in trouble. I can’t write to the paper and say “I know that what you printed is dead wrong, a lie, deliberate misinformation, etc., but I can’t tell you how I know, and I can’t point to evidence.”

    2. If I address in public the obvious problems and loopholes with the Heritage Conservation Act (HCA) and how it is administered and implemented, the status quo, I’m pointing those loopholes out to developers, and how they can exploit them too. If a case goes public, Developer X has gotten in trouble or complained loudly, and I explain how it got to that point, what factors were involved (AND it’s obvious that she’s not being prosecuted for it, maybe she’s even rewarded for complaining), then Developer Y and Z figure they can get away with it too. This is not conjecture; I’ve had clients tell me so.

    3. If I address in public the obvious problems with the HCA etc., I’m also pointing them out to the government in power. The present government was formed by a political party whose stated mandate was to “make changes to the HCA”, and that can only mean GUT it. They may be looking for an excuse to do so, and it appears that the Willows Beach woman is attempting to engineer that excuse.

    (The following appeared in the Times-Colonist – so it might be utterly utterly wrong! – shortly before the election that brought the Liberals to power. For you out-of-provincers the Liberals aren’t “liberal”, they are right of centre. They said they would:
    A. Get rid of the Forest Practises Code.
    B. “Fast-track access” by corporations and private enterprise to Crown Land.
    C. “Make changes to the HCA”.
    They did the first two fairly quickly, both of which negatively affected heritage remains. Perhaps they decided that on second look the HCA didn’t present enough of a hindrance to development to bother changing… But the HCA could still be made worse, or non-existent.)

    4. My argument about ideology in the previous posting. In this time and place the economic bottom line and private enterprise seem to trump all other values. Even when they are self-defeating – polls in B.C. and elsewhere show that people have voted in contradiction to their stated values. (I, uh, read it in the paper too.) “We want better health care – but I’ll vote for whoever is lowering taxes.” “We want better education – and lower taxes.” “We value archaeology – we shouldn’t have to pay for it, privately or by tax money.” But the money for the things we want has to come from somewhere…

    5. Also as per my previous posting. I don’t want the result of my “educating” the public about archaeology to be that they conclude we shouldn’t preserve heritage – because it costs too much and impedes free development. And most discussions seem to lead there.


  14. I think if the Liberal government is voted in (not by me), and they tried to make those changes there would be serious outcry.
    It seems unlikely, but changes to the HCA could potentially be positive.
    One thing that the papers might actually be interested in is any archaeologist’s perspective about what they think is the actual breakdown of the $600,000-I don’t know if that breaks code or something, but it doesn’t have to be someone who worked on the project. It could be an anonymous submission, but who is going to do it?
    I was thinking it might be a good idea to write a piece to the author about what archaeology really is-that is what actually happens at Universities, and certain consulting companies that actually benefits communities so people can see its value, and why the heritage under the ground is worth protecting. Where do people think the stuff in museums came from?
    Articles like that get published occasionally. The connection needs to be made that between archaeology and communities, and CRMs place in this


  15. A comment regarding the apparent lack of ASBC comments. Many of us I’m sure are members of the ASBC, therefore in answer of “Where is the ASBC” in regards to this subject. It is us, continuing with this dialogue. The next issue of the midden is already complete and should be circulating now therefore its unlikely it will have incorporated this more recent event.
    The next issue comes out in the fall, and I believe it will discuss this matter. I believe members are free to write to the ASBC about anything they would like to publish, so if anyone is so inclined…


    • Hi “N” and “skeptical archaeologist”

      Thanks for your comments. I didn’t mean to be beating up on the ASBC, just poking them a little. I don’t think it is that valid to say, though, that everything done by a member amounts to the “ASBC doing things”. I mean, I am a member and yet this blog is not an ASBC blog!

      What I am more concerned with is that the ASBC as an organization could try harder to insert itself into the public dialogue about archaeology.

      As I think I mentioned just before I put the blog on hiatus, the single most useful and cheapest thing the ASBC could do would be to put the back issues of the Midden online, as open access. That would increase 20-fold in a single stroke the amount of publically available, authoritative, yet readable information about BC Archaeology.

      Further, it would fit the mandate of the ASBC which skeptical archaeologist kindly pointed us to, namely, the two purposes of the organization:
      The purposes of this Society shall be:
      a) To protect the archaeological and historical heritage of British Columbia and to this end to assist the various levels of government in implementing applicable heritage legislation.
      b) To further public understanding of a scientific approach to archaeology.

      I heard there was a plan to put The Midden online, but behind a password only known to members. This would be a serious mistake, in my view.

      Skeptical archaeologist, I don’t have the means at the moment to respond to all your points, for which I thank you. Your pithy point that some people who have been educated about archaeology don’t like it is certainly cause for pause. There is no question in my mind that the way the consulting business – implementation of the HCA – developer/landowner pay model is a rotten core at the heart of BC Archaeology. It sets up by its very design a series of apparent conflicts of interest and hence tends to be a divisive force. I don’t believe this to be an accident.

      But, I also believe that we can keep on trying and these days more than ever it is possible to bypass the traditional media – blogs, for example, are essentially free. To return to The Midden, well, this blog (even when not being updated much) has more hits in a single day than the entire membership of the ASBC/circulation of The Midden. It is within our power to do more about the public education side of the ASBC mandate, a mandate which is also arguably the professional mandate of all archaeologists. We should criticise the media and try to improve their reporting standards, but we should also just route around the problem.

      Also, the organization is diluted into three with predictable loss of effectiveness. I mean, I don’t think I have EVER gotten an email or letter from the Real (Vancouver) ASBC. Even The Midden gets hand-delivered!!

      Anyway, much the same could be said of the BCAPA, Academia, etc., and it will be, so nothing personal.

      I note that ASBC Nanaimo explains some of their doings in the other thread:


  16. For those of you who are not subscribers to the academic journal ‘Canadian Zooarchaeology’ there is a new publication in the latest issue of this journal concerning the ‘Willows Beach Site and the Culture History of Southeastern Vancouver Island’ by Ila M. Willerton and Kathlyn M. Stewart (2011) vol 27 pgs 3–22

    Congrats to the authors
    for more information on this journal visit:


  17. qmackie,
    I completely agree with you that this topic should go beyond the Midden and that the ASBC, and other organizations like the BCAPA are in the perfect position to do so. I have in fact brought this topic up with people on the ASBC executive. With your permission I would like to inquire with said people about making digital versions of the Midden available online. I will also bring up this blog, as it is hard to tell who follows it because its anonymous. There could be things in the works that we don’t know about, although that signifies a communication problem in itself I suppose.
    The media standards of newspapers and the like are indeed problematic. That is something I would really love to see Archaeologists make public, and the ASBC could be a medium for that.
    Thank you for your comments


    • N, I second your comments about making the midden available online. I am also a member of the ASBC and would encourage all members who feel the same to communicate the same to their executive.


  18. Hi N,

    Oh, by all means bring it up with the ASBC. I know there were plans for making the back issues available to members only, which I think would be a lost opportunity. Maybe hide only the most recent year of issues or something if they felt the need to encourage people to keep paying their dues – The Midden being the most tangible benefit of membership. Also, it has in the past, and may well still be, been published using a governmental subsidy and therefore even more reason it should be open to the public.

    Anyhow, I think that what’s needed is a group effort to get the point of view of archaeologists across in a structured way – that is, among other things, the ASBC could encourage members to write letters to editors and make online comments on newspaper articles as a sort of grassroots effort to counteract lazy reporting. The ASBC could start a blog along the lines of this one, with the workload shared across the membership. etc. etc. I think there is room for innovation and hopefully higher impact of the organization.

    I remember writing a while ago about thinking to myself, “what archaeology in BC needs is a sort of “Archaeology Sierra Club” and then I realized, “oh yeah we do, that’s what the ASBC could be.”

    Anyway, I’m not down on the ASBC, I just want to give it a big loving poke in the ribs once in a while.

    Oh yeah, the next comment down from the link I made above also still has merit. I get a call for MITACS projects about every six months but an industry partner is needed. A talented writer with a bit of archaeological know how could make a huge difference in a four month internship of steady work.


  19. I was just on Willows Beach and it appears as though the subject property is now for sale!


    • So it is! And only $2,895,000.00 . Ancient Cemetery and Midden included.

      I wonder if MacKay’s appeal for reimbursement of a claimed $600,000.00 can continue if she sells the property?

      Hypothetically, if a property owner (not Ms MacKay) had unpaid bills for archeological work done on a property, could a lien be placed against that property?


  20. Thanks qmackie, those are great suggestions. I did not mean to harp on anyone about beating up on the ASBC, I just meant that the ASBC is not the only outlet for archaeologists, and that we can try to start something too, whether we are average joe members, or executive members- like your “grassroots” movement idea. Any criticism about the ASBC on this blog has only been constructive, so it is a positive thing.
    I read your comment about the ASBC in Nanaimo and I am a big fan of their educational approach. The ignorant and racist backlash revealed by the online comments for the Vancouver Sun article demonstrate a real lack of caring, resulting from a real lack of knowledge and academic exclusion of certain material in schools perhaps.

    Duncan M, the property is for sale? Maybe this is being considered one of those extreme cases, and the government will buy it?


  21. Thanks twoeyes for the link (which doesn’t give much more information but I can hunt down the article I suppose or just ask Yin)

    N: Yes, agreed the Nanaimo Branch does great work. Again, I’d like to see less balkanization from the different chapters. Well, first of all, I’d like to see the Vancouver ASBC explicitly call itself the “Vancouver Chapter”, even if it is the “Real ASBC”: it should be an organization of peers. In fact, maybe they need to form an actual Vancouver Chapter and allow the Real ASBC to focus on Provincial issues and The Midden, and a local executive look after speaker series, etc. (I don’t think it is organized like that but apologies if it is).

    Then I’d like to see better communication from all branches to each other, like an ASBC-wide email list on which members could post and chat with each other about issues of the day. I mean, these are pretty low bars to set for an organization. We just need one techno-savvy person to spend a couple of hours. I’m pretty sure a university would allow their list-serv system to be used.


  22. qmackie,
    Is it ok if a post links for your blogs in the SFU student newspaper?


  23. Awesome, thanks.
    I’m not too sure of the details oh how the ASBC is organized, but ASBC folks are paying attention to this blog. You’re comments about the Midden were well received. Perhaps some changes will occur when the semester ends in the next month, as I’m sure everybody is quite busy at the moment. One problem might be that any such organizational work would be volunteer based, which is of limited capacity in itself. Perhaps a computer whiz is already on board, or will step forth from the members to volunteer their services if such changes are approved?? Email addresses of execs are available in the Midden I believe, so technically anybody can contact the ASBC, or even speak to them personally at meetings. I think initiating change is upon anyone who comes up with the idea, whether they are exec or not.


  24. Let me get credentials out of the way first…I don’t have any. However, I am more than a little curious about the structure of the law(s) that dictate the required conduct of a BC landowner in cases of this kind. If I understand correctly the property owner is obligated to report an archaeological discovery, pay for permits to hire experts to excavate, analyze, report AND pay for the entire effort. It seems unlikely that anyone, expert or not, could possibly make an accurate estimate of related costs at discovery. Further, given the rich First Peoples ancient presence in the area the current owner might be sitting upon a significant find that might make $600,000 sound like a bargain. A fraction of this cost would be well beyond the reach of most average property/home owner(s). I know times are tough, but would it make more sense for a partnership of Provincial Government, local First People’s authority and the home owner (at a reasonable percentage of the cost) to share the burden? It seems that the existing structure inevitably creates an atmosphere that encourages concealing any cultural find and penalizes the honest folks who report as required…just sayin’.


    • Hi – the name “Fish” is all the credential you need to comment on NW Coast Archaeology!

      You have the system about right. In this case, the site has been recorded for almost 50 years, and there is a public interpretation sign within a hundred metres of the house. So the “reporting” aspect doesn’t come into play – and since it was known, due diligence in land conveyancing should probably have alerted the owner of the property to the site before they designed the new house. It is expensive modifications which are the basis of the 600,000 claim, the actual archaeology cost about 10% of that.

      But, separating out two things here: an unsympathetic landowner making an opaque claim of $600,000 against the public purse is one thing. But that shouldn’t colour the more fundamental issue at stake here: as I’ve said many times, I am basically in agreement with those who say, as you do, that the cost of archaeology, a public good, should not be piled up onto individuals but shared by all British Columbians. What the answer to this may be, I don’t know, but I think the current system flunks a basic premise of something akin to “natural law.”

      It is this reason that I sometimes think explains part of the low profile the Archaeology Branch likes to take – they are insecure of the Heritage Conservation Act, but they are also, perhaps, ashamed of its provisions. No one cares if MegaCorp gets handed a stiff bill, but one of these times – and Willows Beach may be it — a combination of a determined landowner with a plausible sob story may bring the fundamental fairness issue out into sharp relief. I doubt it can stand that degree of sunshine. Hence, a good law is precarious because of whom the burden of payment falls onto.

      I have more interest than most in not seeing the HCA blown up so I wish there was the political will to fix its provisions which create (a) conflict (b) disproportionate financial burden and (c) avoidance of reporting and celebrating archaeological discoveries.


  25. For Qmackie,
    Thanks for the thoughtful reply…you bolstered my confidence that I wasn’t misreading the tea leaves here, as I feared. It appears that this law does need to be brought back for legislative discusssion and review. It seems (if fairness is still a noble objective) that to enhance the potential for preservation of cultural sites and avoid potential for property owners to secrete findings out of fear of financial ruin that ALL costs be shared by the citizens of the province (or Canada for that matter!). Thanks again.


  26. The ASBC has always been a group with more of a focus for people just interested in archaeology in BC. Perhaps it is evolving into a greater role advocacy role which is great and I hear they may do a Midden article on this issue! But, I think an organization that should be doing something regarding this and other issues are both the Academics in BC (thanks Quentin and others leading the charge) and the BC Association of Professional Archaeologists. Eva has posted links to this blog and other pages about Willow Beach on their website but there does not appear to be any discussion. These issues probably affect this group of archaeological practitioners in BC more than any others. I think they are quiet. I do not qualify for membership in this group, maybe there is discussions on the forums I cannot access.


  27. Hi Sue, twoeyes

    Yes I saw the forum thingie at the BCAPA website. It’s not getting much interest which is too bad.

    Having spanked the ASBC (and agreed they are not a professional society, but their constitution does give them wide remit to engage in the public forum) I guess I should give equal time to the BCAPA.

    Consider an analogy: let’s say there is a law that says you have to be connected to a sewer line if you live on the waterfront. You’ve been happy with a septic field, but whatever. So you hire a surveyor to plot in a line, and you hire a contractor to dig a ditch, etc. It turns out to cost a lot more than you think, and you wonder if the law is a bit loose, and besides you think that the law is a bit unfair since you don’t have to be connected if you don’t have waterfront.

    So, you file an action against the government for costs, and complain loudly about the backhoe guy and the surveyor in the press.

    At this point, I think you’d see that there would be at least a generic quote in the newspaper article from the ABCLS saying, “we can’t comment on this case but our members are professionals, are highly trained, adhere to ethical principles, always offer full disclosure about billing practices, etc.”

    Reporters do, I think, usually want to present both sides of a story – sometimes they want that too much (e.g., climate change). But they may not want to try too hard to find that other side. Who more natural than the BCAPA to send a press release, with a copy direct to the reporter who has now written three stories on this matter, offering even a generic explanation of how the industry works and perhaps clearing the air a little. I think this is a pretty low bar. The BCAPA should be in the rolodex of every newspaper in the Province as a go-to resource for comments on stories about archaeology. I mean, it is in their interests since the consultants commonly come off looking pretty bad in these one-sided stories driven by aggrieved landowners. The consultant in question can’t defend themselves effectively because of confidentiality clauses, so someone in the profession needs to have their back.

    I’m not a member of the BCAPA either, by the way and I don’t think they should become like, say, the College of Nurses with real power either, but certainly as a lobbying group they could be more effective for the minor industry which is consulting archaeology.


  28. I am a bcapa member, not exactly sure why anymore, but it seemed like a good idea in the early 1990’s when it was formed. There has been and continues to be some efforts in determining good standards of practice in the ‘industry’ which must be adhered to by the members. In the late 1990’s there was a great discussion list that actually had quality participation by the members. Since that time, the membership has become moribund (in my humble opinion) and very much a group of corporations wishing to have their employees recognized as ‘professional archaeologists’ and quite afraid of the risks of speaking out about anything (status quo). There are fewer and fewer small local archaeology companies in the bcapa, as large integrated management firms gobble up the smaller archaeology-only companies and all this amounts to the individual archaeologist having less of a say in what occurs on the ground and what can be said in media. It all seems to be about managing time and risks.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of talented passionate archaeologists in the bcapa and these ARE the folks that work on the ground (the untold story perhaps?), often caught between managing vastly differing perspectives of clients (developers), First Nations corporate groups, First nations assistants, the Archaeology Branch, the public, and the faller, backhoe operator (etc.).
    The bcapa is an obvious target for many but I feel the so called ‘silence’ is fairly ubiquitous amongst all organizations in BC that purport to be advocates for the preservation and protection of archaeological sites, these being the bcapa, asbc, academics, and archaeology branch – with the grand exception of this blog and the relative few archaeologists (what, a handful?) who spend the time to contribute. I challenge the rest to step up and do something too, who knows maybe this year the canucks will win the cup and all bc archaeologists will come together to tell their stories.


  29. skeptical archaeologist

    The problem with the BCAPA addressing an issue such as this one is the same as the ASBC trying to address it: neither has access to the facts. We simply don’t know the facts of this case. How can we protest to the public, the papers or the Minister if we don’t know what happened?

    How much did she pay, if anything at all? What kinds of archaeological work were done, and how much? Did she break the law? If so, why isn’t the law being enforced in her case? Etc.

    The Archaeology Branch isn’t saying; the contractor can’t say; you can’t believe a word you read in the papers. Herself is utterly biased and self-interested. Suggestions?


    • Its obviously not possible to dispute the absolute particulars of this case but then, the reporters obviously didn’t seem to have any qualms about reporting less-than-complete information and less-than-verified facts!?:))

      This generalized case can serve as an opportunity for the ASBC or the BCAPCA to clarify a range of issues that they hold as core values as well as informatively point out how uncritically it has been reported and the extent of the homeowner (now seller’s) self interest and professional positionality, etc. In this case, it entirely possible and reasonable to guesstimate (as has been aptly done in this blog post) that absurd 600K number in is in fact – absurd.

      This ‘news’ story, similar to the Englishman River case, seems to have been pre-determined – it was pitched as a homeowner-gets-the-shaft story and was written with a particular audience in mind – those who are predisposed to dismiss the obligation to protect or appropriately deal with First Nations Heritage sites by Following The Law (paying for archaeology to be done that involves First Nation’s heritage specialists). Rather, these reporters quickly accomplished their goal of getting attention by over-stating the archaeological expense and devaluing the contribution of archaeology by emphasizing the banality of the ‘finds’ let alone downplaying the human significance of human remains.

      It is shocking to me that these stories had very little or no engagement with any actual First Nations perspective or archaeological perspective which is perhaps a reflection of the lack online presence that the ASBC or BCAPCA has on these issues. It is this type case (not the specifics but the generalized ones) that ASBC or BCAPCA could comment on as well as restate their core values and commitment to archaeological heritage, clarifying what they uphold and what they abhor.


    • BC Archaeologist

      My suggestion is that BACPCA or someone based in Victoria trackdown the original arbitrator’s decision that is referred to in Court decision that qmackie links to. It must be available somehow through the court decision, or through the courts in some other way. The references to it in the court decision would suggest it might be full of pertinent facts.


    • My suggestion, offered previously (but perhaps not here), is to create good media stories based upon facts and show that archaeology is important and archaeologists are skilled passionate laborers ( a labor of love no less), scientists and story tellers. This may be done by taking on some project or projects en masse (e.g. surface collections and stratigraphic mapping at eroding sites, excavating sites that may otherwise be ‘monitored’, workshops, etc.) and invite the public and media to attend, also document these activities and post them here or some other fantastic website. I have been involved in many volunteer projects in the last 20 years, (my bank account suggest it has been too many!), but did take those opportunities as professional development and was/am able to work with archaeologists and local communities that I may not have been able to worked with previously. Its a win win situation for anyone who shoes up to such events and a great opportunity to show who we are and the stories we can tell by digging in the dirt. I believe the bcapa is considering this type of action (and how funding for analysis etc. may work) but I think it should include all of us.

      The willows beach case should be put in the same folder as the other poorly reported, lets bash archaeology, news stories. Its not our story.


  30. Two Eyes brings up a very valuable point regarding the perceived “banality” of the objects and/or remains recovered and reported on both from this site and from the Englishman River site. In both cases, several comments in the public forum underneath the story griped about the cost of archaeology vs. the “value” of the recovered pieces. If I recall correctly, one of the posts on the Willows Beach site said something along the line of “What is the open market value of some bits of broken shell, anyways?”.

    Perhaps this is an indicator of where the educational program needs to start: with “stuff”. It must be made clear to people that archaeology is not about shiny goodies (I know that’s a bit rich coming from an avowed lithics nerd; a lithophile as it were), but about the story the tell (to build on Jim’s point). And certainly that artifacts recovered from these excavations does not have an “open market value”.
    Also, I think it may also be prudent to include some sort of public reminder that the artifacts found in a site aren’t found until they’re found (sounds dumb, I know). Archaeologists operate in a world of uncertainty with a sort of Schroedinger’s Excavation Unit: the dig is simultaneously full of picturesque artifacts and devoid of them until the last bucketfull is screened. Up to that point, we are and aren’t Howard Carter, about to find a golden tomb (or the NWC equivalent for getting on the cover of National Geo). This does contradict the “it’s not about the goodies” point to some extent, but I think it’s fair to say that artifacts can be scientifically valuable and paradigm-shattering without being visually spectacular. Not to mention objects that may be banal to the public, unexciting to the researcher, but very important to the descent community. I guess there are several kinds of shininess.

    But how to spread the message, and who to target?
    One option might be to have a look at the BC teaching curriculum regarding First Nations studies (I think students in one grade, between 5 and 9, do a unit on First Nations) or Canadian history, and collaborate on a teaching package to help inform the youngsters.
    Another option could be to try to get a feature article written for MacLeans, Canadian Geographic, or maybe even National Geographic (a prominent source of this image of archaeology=treasure). I don’t think there’s a ton of love lost between MacLean’s and Canwest/Global, so they might just like a story where a community of scientists would like to rebut (and rebuke) the Canwest folks in the name of humanity and being stewards of history and culture.


  31. skeptical archaeologist: I think we need to see the forest as well as the trees. In future instances, the archaeological organizations in the province, and their members, should be ready to discuss these matters and get the general view forward. We may never know the facts of the Willows Beach case – but the point I am making re: ASBC and BCAPA is not that they be ready and willing to intervene in the details of a particular case but that they be ready and willing to offer factual information about archaeology in the province and its practice, and get engaged in the debate. Hence, the talking point starts with “We can’t comment on this case in particular, but in general, archaeology matters because of X,Y,Z; Consultants follow such and such practices; and even, “There have been 50 archaeological projects at Willows Beach including 5 on the property in question and there is an interpetive sign nearby” or “Municipalities are often very poor at communicating with applicants for building permits what the Provincial framework is”. All of these are possible without saying the landowner is right or wrong or knowing the facts of the case at all. That’s my suggestion, which I think is what twoeyes may be suggesting too.

    twoeyes: in fairness, one of the stories did eventually quote a couple of Tseycum people (connection to site unknown). But generally speaking, as you and I note above, the story is very uni-dimensional and the other interest groups are marginalized in favour of the generic trope of “widow screwed by government & shady consultant.” So I really agree with your assertion that the ASBC and BCAPA could be more outspoken on these issues.

    BC Archaeologist: yeah, that elusive document would be great to see. It must be part of the public record, I mean, surely justice must be seen to be done. I just don’t know where to look. I wish someone would just find it and email me a copy if it is in the public domain. I still don’t have the time to spend on this blog that I would like. There is certainly a lot of scope – and this is where academics could pick up the ball the journalists have dropped – to file Freedom of Information requests about these conflicts. I would love to see the correspondence between Ms McKay and the Archaeology Branch, and the internal conversations at the Branch about how to accommodate her action. I would bet there are compromises all around and it would be good to evaluate if these are in the public interest or not. Same as the Gabriola petroglyphs issue, or, for that matter, it would be good if the entire Glenrose file was transparent so interest groups could properly assess that project.

    jim: Hi – totally agree. I think this is where archaeologists and First Nations need to get together and agree on a general framework of acceptable ways to advocate for the archaeological record within general context of First Nations’ history and the history of the land. I mean, within a relationship with trust then maybe the archaeologists could be told to be advocates or something. I think there is still a culture of secrecy about archaeology in BC and maybe some of that is justified reluctance to appropriate or to speak out of turn regarding First Nations’ matters. But, some of it is just habit and some is from the longstanding but misguided belief that you can have “security through obscurity” – deter looters by not talking about sites. So the only archaeology we read about are the horror stories of conflict when there is so much more.

    Thanks all for your comments!


  32. skeptical archaeologist

    Quentin –
    re Reading the Court Records
    A friend told me you can see records online. If you Google “Court Services Online”, select “Search Civil”, you find five cases under Wendi MacKay. Among them: Supreme Court, she vs. The Queen, 2011 , another the same from 2010, and she vs Millennia Research in 2008 in Small Claims.

    But you have to pay. So I selected the 2011 one and paid $6, for the team. A scam. [I mean, “The system was not designed to encourage transparency.”] That $6 merely took me to a list of 12 documents, each of which you need to pay either $6 or $10 to view… One might need a lawyer to determine which doc, if any, might include the evidence entered in the case. The list looks like this:
    12. Order – 15Feb2011
    11. Reasons for Judgment – 15Feb2011
    10. Requisition – 11Feb2011
    9. Notice of Hearing – 23Dec2010
    8. Requisition – 04Oct2010
    7. Response to Petition – 08Sep2010
    5. Petition to the Court [plus one amend] – 25Aug2010
    6. Notice of Hearing – 25Aug2010
    4. Appearance – 25Mar2010
    3. Correspondence -18Mar2010
    2. Affidavit – 18Mar2010
    1. Petition – 18Mar2010

    That’s as far as I took it.


    • Thanks very much for this.

      an interesting but ominous tidbit:
      Wendi J. MacKay is one of six people who sits on the Editorial Board for the BC’s “Land Title Practice Manual”, a very expensive online-only book published by the ‘Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia’ The book costs $550 and is described as “essential for: All conveyancing professionals and all others who make applications to the Land Title and Survey Authority.”


  33. Jim, I totally support your idea. I would love to hear more, and help out.
    Because we do not have all the facts and they cannot be freely shared, we have to use our strengths in this situation. I am a firm believer that our greatest strength here is education. Making people care about heritage that is not theirs however is no easy task. The colonial setting poses unique challenges that must be carefully navigated.
    People are just not understanding the historical depth of this country. The comments from the article, and Mackay’s statement that BC’s ancestral Heritage, and the laws that exist to protect it a “nuisance” to her enjoyment and use of the land reflect this. The irony in this statement is mindblowing.
    nwaber brought up First Nations studies in schools, which are seriously lacking, and is likely associated with the general publics’ attitudes towards this scenario. First Nations studies are also taught briefly in grade 9, and BC FN 12 is an elective at some high schools. Subject material and course availability is however, highly dependent on the teachers’ and school’s philosophies. Usually teachers of BC FN are more than happy to have archaeologists, and band lawyers come in for presentations.
    There are numerous educational endeavors to embark on, but the complex stakeholder situation also poses a challenge, as does funding, and getting people together. I think as academic archaeologists, one’s main research goal should be to use archaeology in benefit to the community of interest, but not everyone thinks like that. CRM is a totally different scenario, and sometimes being open about such a mandate might mean the CRM company doesn’t get the job.
    There are some positive articles about archaeology published by the Sun, like the recent article about Vancouver’s birthday posted by Sue. Its of interest to compare the acceptance and tone of this article, with articles regarding CRM work in which the individual, not the academic institution pays. There are so many different avenues to approach this situation. Starting by raising awareness about the benefits of archaeology, and emphasizing that story teller role (thanks Jim) the archaeologist can take, can help people understand the reasons for heritage legislation. People love a good story, we should try to give them what they want


    • N: Let’s do it then! I suppose we need to find a project, figure out what to do and get a permit (i.e. we’ll fix up the old barn and put on a play). I had envisioned a kind of application process for picking projects but if anyone reading this list knows of some archaeology that needs doing on the cheap, please let us know. The fieldwork would not occur until the fall at the earliest.

      The story teller role is inspired by Q and this blog, and a few of his close colleagues who often talk about ‘the st0ry, and maybe timely following the recent the passing of Binford. I strongly agree with Q that lists and descriptions of artifacts and features, what have you, really don’t tell much of a story and one need bring a lot more into it than that. These things are not separate from the people and the land.


  34. Hey Jim, cool I’m in!
    I will talk to whatever contacts I have in search of starting points. I’ll try to reply to you personally so you have my contact info. Archaeologists need to be better story tellers. Usually, we end up just boring people, when the material actually has such fascinating potential. Maybe we could start by finaggling our ways into various local community days, and set up story telling booths in collaboration with the local First Nation(s)-which may already be happening in some cases.


  35. Pingback: Sitchanalth – The Songhees History Cairn at Willows Beach, Oak Bay « burnt embers

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