Engaging Black and Racialized Descendant Communities with Archaeology and Heritage Projects

Session Hosting Format: 
in-person session
Vendredi, mai 3, 2024 - 10:20am - 12:00pm
  • Tommy Yukon Ng, Bison Historical Services Ltd.
  • John Somogyi-Csizmazia, North Island College
  • Neha Gupta, University of British Columbia, Okanagan
Session Description (300 word max): 

The participation of descendant communities is central to the design of research, in meaningful analysis and interpretation of archaeology, and in the appropriate preservation of heritage. In this session, we invite presenters to share projects that engage Black and racialized descendant
communities with archaeology and heritage, and discuss how they participate in, and contribute to these projects. Projects can be in any stage of development, including those that have been completed, or that are in the initial stages of conceptualization. We especially encourage students and early career scholars to submit a paper.

10:20 AM - 10:40 AM: The Old Negro Cemetery- Desecration of Graves and Erasure of Black Life in New Brunswick
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Mary McCarthy - Community / PhD

This presentation tells the story of the “Old Negro Cemetery” that was swallowed by the building of the Mactacquac Dam. The dam built in the mid 1960s in Kingsclear Parish in central New Brunswick runs along the mighty Wolastoq (Saint John River), which was for time immemorial settled by Indigenous Peoples. The Wolastoq continues to support many people and communities who live and thrive along it. It was also along the Wolastoq that the first generation of African New Brunswickers established communities, where they buried their ancestors. In the 1960s, when plans were drawn to widen the river bed for the Mactacquac Dam, New Brunswick Hydro engineers marked locations of graves of white New Brunswickers and moved them away from the areas that were to be flooded. They marked the “Old Negro Cemetery” which was estimated to have the graves of 60 Black ancestors. Yet, unlike the graves of white residents, graves of Black residents were deliberately left in place, such that when the dam was completed and the waters of the mighty Wolastoq flowed again, the river swallowed the graves. Narrating this presentation is a 6th generation woman of African descent, whose ancestors are buried under the river.  


10:40 AM - 11:00 AM: Planting the Seed: Thinking about an Archaeology of Nikkei Food in Canada
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Emma Yasui - York University

Food has always been an important part of the Japanese Canadian experience, whether home-cooked meals or community events. Getting the right ingredients often meant relying on imported products, but also kitchen gardens and market farmers who brought Japanese plants to Canada. As a paleoethnobotanist who has focused on ancient starch grain analysis of Jomon Period Japan, I have been intrigued by the overlap in the collection of plants used by the past Japanese cultures I study and the Nikkei cuisine that I grew up with. In this presentation, I will explore the potential for expanding on Nikkei foodways by applying paleoethnobotanical methods and considering the human-plant communities that would have formed before, during, and after dispossession and imprisonment. I will also reflect on how archaeological research on foodways could be used to promote meaningful engagement with Canadian Nikkei, and bring the past to life for a wide audience.

11:00 AM - 11:20 AM: Stirring Up Memories: Engaging with Descendants of Calgary’s Chinese Market Gardens – A City Project Perspective
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Laureen Bryant - City of Calgary

From approximately 1929 to 1952, lands within the Colonel Walker Homestead (and Inglewood Bird Sanctuary) were leased to Chinese families who developed what became known as market gardens. Each family had 5 acres upon which to live and work. However, the role of the Chinese Market Gardens in the City’s development during the early 20th century is poorly understood. Calgary Parks and Open Spaces hopes to shift that with the implementation of the Chinese Market Gardens Interpretive Program Project. A serendipitous encounter connected Calgary parks staff with a member of the Koo family, a descendant of one of the original market gardeners. Since then, the City has worked closely with the family through project development and plans for future engagement are continuing; these will be discussed in this paper. Dale E. Boland will be presenting more on the details of the archaeological work completed and the family’s role in the next paper of this session.

11:20 AM - 11:40 AM: Stirring Up Memories: Engaging with Descendants of Calgary’s Chinese Market Gardens – An Archaeologist’s Perspective
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Dale E Boland - Stantec Consulting Ltd.

The City of Calgary is planning to develop the Chinese Market Gardens Interpretive Program within the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Between approximately 1929 and 1952, retired NWMP officer Colonel James Walker and his son, Selby Walker, leased plots of the homestead to Chinese families. The family plots included greenhouses, root cellars, raised beds, and small bungalows. Crops such as cabbages, carrots, and bedding plants were raised, harvested, and sold to local greengrocers and restaurants. Recent archaeological investigations supporting the development recovered over 5,000 artifacts and faunal materials from an excavation block centred on one of the root cellars. This paper will discuss some of the finds, the memories invoked by their recovery, and the interesting conversations and memory-sparking meetings held between the City, the archaeologists, and living descendants.

11:40 AM - 12:00 PM: Seeking Justice in Black Spaces: The Geography, Memory, and Legacy of the Tulsa Race Massacre
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • nkem ike - University of Toronto

The early 20th century was a period ripe with racial and anti-Black violence that impacted every corner of the United States. Recent archaeological studies have been undertaken to understand these sites of violence; however, more work needs to be done. Using the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the 2021 centennial, this presentation shines a light on how survivors, descendants, and stakeholders shape these events using memory, the landscape, and materiality as tools to craft stories of the past that impact the present.