More on Stone Bowls and Reality Shows

Screenshot from Times-Colonist of Qualicum bowl which may be subjected to reality TV auction by CBC.

Screenshot from Times-Colonist of Qualicum bowl which may be subjected to reality TV auction by CBC.  Click to enlarge.

The Times-Colonist has another article (PDF) on the seated human figure bowl which may go up for auction as part of a crass CBC reality TV show. The new article has some good information about the bowl from Grant Keddie and reactions from the B.C. Archaeology Branch and the CBC.  Thanks to twoeyes for posting this article in comments in the prior post; I thought it needed a new entry of its own.

The bowl was apparently found in Qualicum Beach in 1988, and is known to the Royal BC Museum – it has been photographed by them (see screenshot above).  I’m not sure if there has been any publications about this bowl, if the Qualicum First Nation knew about it before this mini-controversy, or what has been said to the owner about the importance of the item. The Times-Colonist does have some interesting quotes from those involved.

“The archeology branch is concerned that offering such items for sale, and attaching a monetary value to them, will promote illegal collection of artifacts and illegal excavations in protected archeological sites,” said a ministry spokesman. “We are therefore respectfully requesting that this item not be offered at auction.”  Later on in the article, the Director of the Archaeology  Branch, Justine Batten, notes the bowl was found before the current Heritage Conservation Act came into force. “The province’s only option would be to designate the bowl as a provincial heritage object, which would preclude the object from leaving the province but not from being sold. However, this artifact is not considered a good candidate for designation because the owners are unwilling.”

Because the owners are unwilling.  Green light! You can sell it and if you don’t want it designated, then that won’t happen.

The current owner quoted in the article sounds ok, if a little gormless – the bowl just wants to have fun.

Grant Keddie notes the RBCM would love to have it for their collection — no doubt! Though it’s an odd sentiment juxtaposed with comments from the Qualicum First Nation’s spokesperson. Keddie notes it can’t be easily exported, which is good, but in essence substitutes an assertion of Canadian cultural patrimony over top of the First Nations’ interests..

I mean, it seems to me if the bowl ends up in Victoria, then from the First Nation’s perspective, it might have been exported as surely as if it went to New York.

I don’t know, the tone of the authorities as quoted does not seem to be raising the appropriate ethical issues around this object.  As noted in the previous post and its comments, these bowls may be considered to be animate beings, persons even, and the discussion around them should probably not be limited to the law. Indeed, it might not have been, if the government let one of the actual ministry archaeologists working for them to be interviewed and quoted on the topic.

Maybe the CBC – which stand to make advertising dollars from recklessly toying with it – should buy it and donate it.  After all, they do sound pleased about the controversy – free publicity in the Times-Colonist!  (And on this blog! — oops).  Maybe the Archaeology Branch should send a stronger signal of disapproval – if in fact, they actually disapprove.  Maybe we should hear from the BCAPA, the ASBC, and the CAA (if we haven’t already).

18 responses to “More on Stone Bowls and Reality Shows

  1. “I Raise My Hands To Honor twoeyes And qmackie For Respecting First Nations Patrimony!”
    “Our Prayers Go Out To The Qualicum First Nation”
    lekw’elás ti’dsta (Place-of-the-Fire I am named)
    dxdew?ábsh chud (People-of-the-Inside, “Duwamish”, I am)
    tulal chud sá’cakahl (I am from Water-at-Head-of-the-Bay, “Mercer Slough”)


  2. Supportive letter in the Colonist-Times today:

    Re: “CBC comes digging for treasures in Victoria,” June 28.

    Thanks for alerting the public to the fact that the CBC is promoting and supporting the potential sale of a precious heritage object in the form of a 2,000-year-old artifact in the possession of a woman from Comox.

    She may be excused for not knowing that this is a heritage object of importance to aboriginal people under the B.C. Heritage Conservation Act and therefore subject to provincial protection, but the CBC should.

    Under no circumstances is it excusable that this object be used for entertainment purposes and sold to a private collector. It is of importance not only to aboriginal people, but to all Canadians.

    Steve Thomson, minister of forests, lands and natural resources, is responsible for heritage conservation in B.C. and should place provincial designation on this object without delay.

    Katherine Palmer Gordon

    Gabriola Island


  3. Interesting side-note: the Indian government is to start a program to proactively purchase plots of land which have archaeological sites on them:


  4. I sent a statement to the CBC on behalf of the BCAPA…

    Tuesday, July 12, 2013
    VIA EMAIL:;;
    ATTENTION: CBC Ombudsman; producers of the “Four Rooms” Reality TV Show
    RE: Purchase and Selling of First Nations Artifacts
    This statement is presented to you on behalf of the British Columbia Association of Professional Archaeologists (BCAPA) in response to the announced sale of a Seated Human Figure Bowl on your upcoming program. BCAPA is a non-profit association of archaeologists engaged in archaeological research and the protection and management of archaeological resources in British Columbia (BC). Archaeologists study the remains left by past peoples to reconstruct how those people lived. Our members work with all parties who have an interest in archaeology, including government regulatory agencies, First Nations, universities and colleges, industry, land developers, and the general public. Part of our mission is to provide our profession and the public with information about our association, archaeology, and archaeological legislation. Our members subscribe to the following principles:
    • The physical remains of past human activity hold importance to all people;
    • We advocate for the preservation and protection of the archaeological record; and
    • We strive to educate the public regarding cultural heritage.
    Within BC, cultural heritage sites are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act. Many of the heritage sites and the associated artifacts found in BC are aboriginal in origin and tell the story of thousands of years of habitation within the Province before the arrival of Europeans. From these artifacts and remains that are left behind, we can learn about past environments, societies, belief systems, technologies and human health and behaviour. Many of these artifacts are not only rare and significant, but also hold tremendous spiritual and cultural meaning to present-day Indigenous peoples. For these reasons, we believe that the purchase and selling of artifacts should not be encouraged.
    The BCAPA invites anyone who is interested in archaeology or BC’s extensive cultural heritage to visit our website at or contact us at
    Ginelle Taylor, Vice President
    British Columbia Association of Professional Archaeologists


  5. I did a live CBC interview the day before the newspaper article came out. I voiced the opinion that most archaeologists are against placing a monetary value on artifacts and that the CBC should withdraw the artifact from the show. One should able to find the recording on the CBC Morning Side Show web,


  6. I’m wondering if anyone has an update on what is happening with this situation. Has the CBC responded to the BCAPA’s letter? Any idea what has happened with the stone bowl? Thanks.


    • The BCAPA has not received a response from the CBC or producers of the show. I resent the BCAPA statement last week as I fear that the show will air this month.


  7. Thanks for the update.


  8. Ginelle just forwarded me the CBC response to post:

    Click to access cbc_bowl_response.pdf

    It’s pretty generic and says they will abide by the CRTC but it doesn’t address the ethics of it. It does say they will consult with “museum, art, and
    historical experts.

    Being selected to be sold does not guarantee a sale — but neither does it preclude a sale – and the idea they would base an episode around an object that is “for sale” and yet not allowed to be sold seems farfetched.

    Anyway, the letter is un-pasteable so you’ll have to click on the link above.


  9. Thanks for posting this, Quentin.
    I keep wondering about the legality of of this. If the bowl was found in 1988, the event post-dates the introduction of the 1977 HCA. Didn’t this version of the Act extend the application of site protection to archaeological sites on private land?


  10. Hi EmilyB,
    That’s a good question. Hopefully someone pops in to answer it. At a practical level, statute of limitations would be over I imagine.


  11. No surprise that they are featuring the bowl, no surprise they are too ashamed to have comments turned on.


  12. Just for the record, from their blog:
    Item name: Harris Bowl
    Seller: Jewel Kizuk from Comox, British Columbia
    Background: Jewel Kizuk from Comox, British Columbia comes to FOUR ROOMS with a 2,000-year-old Salish Bowl. This First Nations artefact was found in a Qualicum Beach backyard in 1988.

    Click to access harris-bowl-four-rooms.pdf


  13. Looks like the bowl is featured on this episode,
    (with the caption” How much will they offer for a controversial west coast artifact?”):


  14. The link doesn’t seem to be working, but the preview is here:


  15. Huy Ce:p Qa (thank you all), I am a member of Qualicum First Nation and I had no idea that this bowl had been acquired before this controversy. I have heard from people outside my own community that knew about this before we did. It bothers me how easily people will put a monetary value on our culture without any consideration to the fact that we even exist or matter. We face this world and this issue with two different concepts of ownership and our rights and title are not recognized in these situations. I’d like to raise my hands to my relative from down south for his prayers and to the author of this article and everyone else who has been support in this matter.


    • JesseR: I am a member of the greater Bowser community; I live near Deep Bay on the waterfront and daily at low tide I observe easily how your ancestors moved billions of stones on the beach to create what are locally known as the Bowser Lagoons. I also am aware of the numerous hand laid canoe launches in the area. A small group of local folks want to protect this very valuable demonstration of your culture created by your ancestors, but we are not sure how to go about doing it. This new push to harvest seaweed mass from the upland is a tremendous THREAT to the archaeological preservation of this part of your culture. Any ideas how to
      go about getting this area protected before the new seaweed licenses are issued October first 2014 ? choppingwoodhaulingwater (at)