Do I Need an Archaeologist?

By law, all archaeological sites, registered or not, in Canada belong to the Crown, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, and to the people of the province or territory in which it is located, whether it exists on private or on public land. This means that any disturbance to an archaeological site must be overseen by an archaeologist holding a valid archaeological permit, in order to ensure that this shared resource is properly cared for, recorded, and protected. A professional archaeologist will help you through this process.

What Does this mean for Developers?

In Nova Scotia, for example, all Class 1 and Class 2 undertakings are required to undergo an environmental assessment. The list can be found in the Environmental Assessment Regulations​. The Minister has the authority to require an environmental assessment for any policy, plan or program, or a modification, extension, abandonment, demolition, or rehabilitation of those undertakings listed in Schedule A, as Class 1 or Class 2. Most jurisdictions have a variation of this environmental assessment process and archaeological impact assessments are part of the EA process. Developers outside of these classes are still bound by law to protect known and previously unknown archaeological sites, on land or underwater.

What Does the Law Say?

Every Canadian province and territory, including Federal Lands, has its own unique laws to protect archaeological and heritage resources. However, Canada-wide it is illegal for a company or private individual to knowingly disturb or alter an archaeological or heritage resource, on land or underwater, without consulting a permit-holding expert. Doing so not only compromises Canada’s precious and diverse heritage resources, but it can also lead to hefty fines and/or jail time.


Know the Laws in Your Region

Hire an Archaeologist Early in Project Development

Plan Ahead

Know your roles and legal obligations to stakeholders and Indigenous groups.

Know what you may encounter and plan accordingly. 

An archaeologist can streamline a mitigation or protection plan and draft a descendant group engagement plan if archaeological resources are encountered.

Avoid Delays

The archaeological permitting process can take weeks in certain jurisdictions. Impact on archeological resources must stop until a permit is in place and and a professional archaeologist has done an assessment.

Hiring an archaeologist ahead of development can help avoid delays.

Cost Effective

Time is money! Know your options before you dig and incorporate that into your project design.

Hiring an archaeologist early may help mitigate unforeseen expenditures and costly project redesigns.

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