Co-partners in archaeological dig explore the lives of ancient West Coast peoples

Co-partners in archaeological dig explore the lives of ancient West Coast peoples

by fhnationtalk on July 24, 2013690 Views

July 23, 2013


For immediate release

 Following their landmark excavation of an ancient West Coast chief’s burial site, archaeologists from the shíshálh Archaeological Research Project will take to the field again this summer to search for 5,000-year-old artifacts on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

Begun in 2009, the shíshálh Archaeological Research Project explores the lives of the shíshálh people who inhabited the inlets of the northern Salish Sea, an area that had not received the research attention it deserves until now.

Dr. Terence Clark, Curator of Western Canadian Archaeology with the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and Dr. Gary Coupland, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, will lead a team of university and high-school students as they dig into the remains of a fishing village once occupied by the ancestors of today’s shíshálh (Sechelt) First Nation.

A self-governing Nation on the coast of British Columbia, the shíshálh First Nation is a partner in the project and has been involved in every aspect, as owners of the heritage properties under investigation and the stewards of these lands. As the excavation site is near the town of Sechelt, it is easily accessible to shíshálh First Nation students who are also participating in the dig. 

“Working in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the University of Toronto, we have seen many benefits in our community,” said Chief Garry Feschuk. “One benefit has been to have our students immerse themselves in our history and learn about an important academic pursuit. We are very pleased with the work that has been conducted and excited about the future.”

“When these archaeologists unearth a stone weight from an ancient fishing-net or a treasure trove of decorative beads in an ancestral chief’s burial site, it represents a tangible connection between us and the peoples of the distant past,” explained Dean Oliver, Director of Research at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. “These discoveries are especially poignant for the people of the shíshálh First Nation, whose ancestors’ hands shaped the artifacts that we find today along this coastline.”

Among the discoveries in the four major settlement sites so far excavated are 350,000 stone beads, which researchers unearthed in 2010 from the gravesite of an ancient shíshálh chief. That unprecedented find makes this archaeological site one of the most important in the province.

Progress on the shíshálh Archaeological Research Project can be followed at or

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is the centre for research and public information on the social and human history of the country. Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Museum is Canada’s largest and most popular cultural institution, attracting over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum of Civilization’s principal role is to preserve and promote the heritage of Canada for present and future generations, thereby contributing to the promotion and enhancement of Canadian identity.

Media Contacts:

Stéphanie Verner
Media Relations Officer
Telephone: 819-776-7169
[email protected]

Chief Garry Feschuk
Telephone: 604-885-2273
[email protected]



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