Principles of Ethical Conduct


The objectives of the Canadian Archaeological Association include promoting, protecting and conserving the archaeological heritage of Canada, and the dissemination of archaeological knowledge. Canadian archaeologists conduct their activities according to the principles of scholarly practice and recognize the interests of groups affected by their research.


We expect that the members of the CAA will exercise respect for archaeological remains and for those who share an interest in these irreplaceable and non-renewable resources now and in the future.  The archaeological record includes in-situ materials and sites, archaeological collections, records and reports. Stewardship involves having care for and promoting the conservation of the archaeological record. This record is unique, finite and fragile.  CAA members should acknowledge:

  • access to knowledge from the past is an essential part of the heritage of everyone;
  • conservation is a preferred option;
  • where conservation is not an option, ensure accurate recording and dissemination of results;
  • excavations should be no more invasive/destructive than determined by mitigation circumstances or comprehensive research goals;
  • the commodification of archaeological sites and artifacts through selling and trading is unethical.

Aboriginal Relationships

Recognizing that the heritage of Aboriginal Peoples constitutes the greater part of the Canadian archaeological record, the Canadian Archaeological Association has accepted the  Statement of Principles for Ethical Conduct Pertaining to Aboriginal Peoples.  Members of the Association have agreed to abide by those Principles.

Professional Responsibilities

Archaeological remains are finite, fragile, non-renewable and unique.  Before undertaking responsibility for any excavation that destroys a portion of the archaeological record, members of the Canadian Archaeological Association must:

  • keep abreast of developments in their  specializations;
  • possess adequate training, support, resources and facilities to undertake excavation and analysis;
  • produce an adequate document worthy of the destruction of the archaeological remains;
  • present archaeology and research results in a timely and responsible manner;
  • preserve documentation in such a way that it is of value to future researchers;
  • comply with all legislation and local protocols with Aboriginal Peoples, as described in the Statement of Principles for Ethical Conduct Pertaining to Aboriginal Peoples, as appropriate in each province and/or territory;
  • respect colleagues, and cooperate with them;
  • allow the expression of alternative views of the past;
  • exercise the right to defend our own scholarship;
  • recognize that documentation of an archaeological record should, within a reasonable period of time, become available to others with legitimate research interests;
  • present archaeological information in an objective and well informed manner in all contexts.

Public Education and Outreach

A fundamental commitment to stewardship is the sharing of knowledge about archaeological topics to a broader public and to enlist public support for stewardship.  Members of the CAA are encouraged to:

  • communicate the results of archaeological work to a broad audience;
  • encourage the public to support and involvement in archaeological stewardship;
  • actively cooperate in stewardship of archaeological remains with aboriginal peoples;
  • promote public interest in, and knowledge of, Canadaís past;
  • explain appropriate archaeological methods and techniques to interested people;
  • promote archaeology through education in the K-12 school systems;
  • support and be accessible to local archaeological and other heritage groups;
  • contribute to the CAA Web Page, and promote where appropriate electronic publication of archaeological materials.