President’s Message Spring 2018

After a year of “learning the ropes”, I became the new President of the CAA at the last Annual General Meeting in Winnipeg. I would like to begin my first President’s Message by thanking Amelia Fay and Kevin Brownlee and the rest of the organizing committee for being outstanding hosts for this year’s Annual CAA Conference. I would like to extend a special thank you to all the Indigenous presenters and performers, who helped make the event very special.

We are moving east to Quebec City for the 2019 annual CAA conference, which will be co-hosted by the Association des Archéologues du Québec (AAQ). We also have a firm commitment for 2020 in Edmonton, and tentative venues until 2024.

Gary Warrick will remain on the Board of Directors next year as Past President. We are also very fortunate that Jennifer Campbell is continuing as Vice-President, Joanne Braaten as Secretary-Treasurer and Cheryl Takahashi as webmaster. Gary Coupland is stepping down as editor of the Canadian Journal of Archaeology. For his last issue of the CJA, Gary is creating a Special Issue to commemorate the CAA’s 50th Anniversary, which features 17 short pieces on current topics in Canadian Archaeology. Gary has been the editor since 2013 and his experience will be greatly missed. Susan Blair has now assumed the role of CJA editor and will be responsible for issue 42(2).

The Board tackled several important issues over the last year. One of these was developing a statement concerning the calls to action by the United Nations Declaration of Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Gary Warrick crafted the initial statement, which was passed as a motion at the 2018 AGM meeting in Winnipeg and added to the CAA website. This statement will be revisited at the next Board meeting in November, in light of suggestions for amendments by the members. At the request of the membership, the Board will also be reviewing the CAA Statements of Ethical Conduct at that time.

Another important issue addressed by the Board, was House of Commons of Canada Bill C-391 (Aboriginal Cultural Property Repatriation Act). Bill C-391 concerns the development of a national strategy to promote and support the return of Indigenous cultural property. Gary Warrick was approached by Bill Casey (Liberal MP for Cumberland - Colchester, NS), seeking CAA endorsement of this Bill, which was first read in the House of Commons on 1 February 2018. The Bill came about when a small Mi’kmaq community in Bill Casey’s riding tried to get federal assistance to repatriate an early nineteenth century chief’s robe from Museum Victoria in Sydney, Australia. After a heated debate over this issue at the AGM last month, it was agreed that the federal government needs to have some kind of policy for the repatriation of Indigenous artifacts and we voted to endorse Bill C-391 in principle. However, as it is written the Bill may have more far-reaching implications than the Mi’kmaq case, and the CAA will have to closely monitor its progress.

A third significant issue was our motion at the AGM concerning the publication of illustrations and detailed descriptions of human remains in any CAA medium. This issue came up when a paper was submitted to the CJA containing photographs of Indigenous human remains. A review of the guidelines for other academic journals revealed that the CAA has lagged behind other groups in this regard, including the Society for American Archaeology and the World Archaeology Congress. Both of these organizations have much stiffer restrictions on the publication of human remains than those the Board recommended. After another heated debate at the AGM, the original motion was passed with an amendment giving a definition of descendant communities (see News and Announcements).

The Board is also attempting to put all past CAA Annual Conference programmes and abstracts online. It is hoped that this information will be searchable and allow authors to link CAA conference abstracts to their CVs.

Some of the CAA committees have been very active over the last year. Christian Gates St. Pierre reports that the Public Advocacy Committee intervened in the saving of the Fort Lorette site in Montreal, a seventeenth century site threatened by the proposed construction of condos. He also gave multiple interviews last fall in both the French and English media promoting Canadian archaeology and current policies. Emma Lewis-Sing (MA student, Memorial University) has revived the CAA Student Committee. She has recruited more than 20 new student members, begun organizing a digital newsletter, and arranged student activities for the last CAA meeting. A new Equity and Diversity Working Group was established last year, which is chaired by Lisa Hodgetts. The group will focus on creating awareness and communication around equity and diversity issues, and beginning a conversation about national level tactics to address these issues.

I hope that everyone has a productive summer and fall. Remember that if you have any concerns I can be reached at my CAA email address (

Kindest Regards,
Michael Deal