(HYBRID IN-PERSON / ONLINE) Collaborative Archaeology at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site

Session Hosting Format: 
in-person session
Thursday, May 4, 2023 - 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Kluskap C (Hybrid)
  • Rebecca Dunham, IACH, Parks Canada Agency
  • Keith Mercer, Nova Scotia Mainland Field Unit, Parks Canada
Contact Email: 
Session Description (300 word max): 

Parks Canada and the Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO) work collaboratively to co-manage, protect, and respect Mi'kmaq cultural heritage at Kejimkujik National Historic Site/National Park and Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct National Park in the Mi’kmaw district of Kespukwitk (Southwest Nova Scotia).

Kejimkujik and the broader cultural landscape have profound ecological and cultural significance to the Mi’kmaq. For thousands of years, these lands and waters have been, and continue to be, the homeland of the Mi’kmaw and archaeological resources found throughout the region bear evidence of Mi’kmaq heritage.

The development of a collaborative archaeology technical team at Kejimkujik has transformed archaeological practices at the park and has been recognized by both Parks Canada and KMKNO as an effective co-management process. Following a two-eyed seeing (Etuaptmumk) approach, where both Western and Indigenous ways of knowing are woven together, we strive to better appreciate the interrelatedness between cultural resources and environment, the oneness of the relationship between an artifact and where it lay, and the deep-rooted connection between past and present.

This session will offer a variety of perspectives on collaborative archaeology at Kejimkujik from the Mi’kmaq community, Parks Canada management, academic research, and archaeological consulting.

01:00 PM: Listening, Learning, and Growing – Development of Collaborative Archaeology at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
Presentation format: In-Person
  • Rebecca Dunham - Parks Canada
  • Keith Mercer - Parks Canada
  • Jonathan  Sheppard - Parks Canada

Since 2016, Parks Canada and Kwilmu’kmw Maw-klusuaqn (KMKNO) have worked together to create a collaborative archaeology program at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site – a Mi’kmaw cultural landscape. Things did not start smoothly. We have tried to learn from mistakes on early infrastructure projects, such as a bridge replacement at Eel Weir on the Mersey River, to improve our project planning, funding and timelines for archaeology, opening up the impact assessment process, and incorporating the expertise and voices of the Mi’kmaq themselves. To that end, we created an interdisciplinary “tech team” that meets monthly to discuss archaeology in the park. Over the years, on projects large and small, this group has come to know each other well, trust each other, and create meaningful change in protecting cultural heritage. This includes creating archaeological testing protocols which have been refined by the traditional knowledge and participation of community members. Coming full circle, this collaboration has led the group to champion a new project aimed at introducing Mi’kmaw youth to archaeology in a camp setting, learning about their heritage in the traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq people.

01:20 PM: Practicing CRM within a Collaborative Archaeology Framework: Lessons from Kejimkujik
Presentation format: In-Person
  • Sara Beanlands - Boreas Heritage

Archaeologists working in cultural resource management are frequently confronted with external pressures that discourage collaborative approaches to CRM practice.  The recent development and implementation of a collaborative archaeology approach at Kejimkujik National Historic Site/National Park has demonstrated that such an approach is not only viable but necessary for advancing industry methods and practice. This paper will share lessons learned working within a collaborative archaeology framework and how the experience expanded and transformed the goals, practices, and outcomes of a CRM project and a CRM company.


01:40 PM: My Journey in Mi’kmaw Archaeology
Presentation format: In-Person
  • Robert  Labradore - Parks Canada
  • Rebecca Dunham - Parks Canada

Hi, I’m Robert Labradore of Glooscap First Nation, working for Parks Canada as the Project Coordinator for the new Mi’kmaq Youth Archaeology Camp at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site in the summer of 2023.

This is my personal journey in Mi’kmaq archaeology. I’ll start with a brief introduction on who I am, my first fieldwork experience with Boreas Heritage Consulting, and how I ended up and the kinds of things I’ve been doing at Parks Canada. I’ll then focus on the youth camp specifically, which has been in development since last summer. This will include the genesis of the project, it being led by and for Mi’kmaw kids in our traditional homeland, and the camp’s program. I’ll conclude with a short explanation of “Two-Eyed Seeing” (Etuaptmumk) and why it is so important for doing archaeology generally, but for the future relationship between Parks Canada and the Mi’kmaq people in particular. I will show how important it is to bring more Mi’kmaw voices into key projects and decision-making.

02:00 PM: From Conflict and Castigation to Collaboration and Celebration:
Presentation format: In-Person
  • Heather MacLeod-Leslie - Kwilmu'kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiations Office
  • Tamara Young - Kwilmu'kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiations Office (KMKNO)

In decades past, the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Parks Canada Agency was characterized by disrespect, distrust, dislocation and dispute.  Recovery from such a history takes time and effort and commitment to work through the tough moments, but with the right voices and ears at the table, progress is happening. This presentation will look at some of the successes and goals for the Collaborative Archaeology relationship that KMKNO has participated in and offer our perspective on the value of this model for the benefits of all parties including those who have yet to take up this type of model.