Parks Canada searches for cultural heritage resources to reveal stories from the past and help guide future management decisions
SKIDEGATE, HAIDA GWAII and OTTAWA, June 6, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honorable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada and Kil tlaats'gaa, Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation, today announced an exciting new Parks Canada led underwater archaeology project that will search for various underwater archaeological sites and, for the first time, the remains of historic shipwrecks in the Gwaii Haanas region. This work is a continuation of years of work by Parks Canada and various partners to explore, study, protect and share with the public the rich archaeological heritage of the area.
Parks Canada will search for a range of shipwrecks, including several from the period of "contact". According to oral and written history, two of the ships arrived in 1794 during the maritime fur trade and another in 1851 during a search for gold.
The underwater archaeologists will spend approximately three weeks in the Gwaii Haanas area and will use targeted diving techniques and remote sensing, which will also include side-scan sonars, magnetometers and an autonomous underwater vehicle. The goal is to continue to build a good understanding and inventory of these important underwater cultural sites. As well as shipwrecks, the archaeological team will search for all kinds of other underwater archaeological sites from a broad range of chronological periods.
This announcement supports the key pillars of the National Conservation Plan (NCP) recently announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The NCP will provide a shared and coherent vision to advance conservation efforts across the country. It will enable Canadians across the country to conserve and restore lands and waters, and enhance the connections between citizens and natural spaces.
- A four-person team of Parks Canada underwater archaeologists and the Gwaii Haanas cultural resource management advisor will be joined by a volunteer from the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia and will use Parks Canada's research vessel Gwaii Haanas II.
- Shipwrecks along with submerged habitation sites, fish weirs and middens, and harbours are all a part of the cultural heritage that can be found in Gwaii Haanas.
- Underwater archaeology shares the same methodology (such as documentation techniques) and principles as archaeology carried out on land sites however, searching for sites underwater is much more difficult and requires more expensive technology and the likelihood of success is somewhat lower.
"Today's announcement supports the key pillars of our new National Conservation Plan, by conserving and restoring our lands and water and protecting Canada's rich natural heritage from coast to coast to coast. Searching for shipwrecks in Gwaii Haanas will help us gather an inventory of the cultural treasures in Canada's first national marine conservation area reserve."
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
"Haida Gwaii and the surrounding waters are blanketed with Haida history. Locating a vessel and other cultural material from the time of contact will provide valuable insight for those times but also give us pause to consider our relationships today. We are pleased to participate in this search for clues to the early history of contact in our territory."
Kil tlaats'gaa, Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation
SOURCE: Parks Canada
For further information:
Office of the Minister of the Environment