Reciprocal Archeological and Anthropological Training Programs

The Indigenous Strategic Initiatives (ISI) Fund has begun allocating money to successful Stream 1: Innovative Projects that will further the implementation of the Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP). $1.5 million was set aside to fund Innovative Projects intended to advance one of the ISP’s six priority actions.

The following article explores details about a successful Innovative Project: Developing new platforms for reciprocal training between Musqueam (xwməθkwəy̓əm) Indian Band (MIB) and the Laboratory of Archaeology (LOA).

Funding Cycle2021-2022
UnitDepartment of Anthropology
Museum of Anthropology

This project responds to a direct request from xwməθkwəy̓əm to develop new University accredited programs that will build capacity in First Nations communities. The project goal is to explore pathways for a land-based, experiential, co-op style accreditation program which takes into account cultural and experiential knowledge.

Project Team

This project brings together a team made up of representatives from Musqueam (xwməθkwəy̓əm) Indian Band (MIB) and the Laboratory of Archaeology (LOA) at UBC. Project xwməθkwəy̓əm partners include members of the MIB Archaeology Office (Kody Huard, Richard Campbell, Aviva Rathbone), Leona Sparrow (designated liaison between the Musqueam and UBC) and other xwməθkwəy̓əm community members and knowledge holders. The team members from LOA include Kristen Barnett, Andrew Martindale, Camilla Speller (Anthropology), Kevin Fisher (Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies), Alison Wylie (Philosophy), Museum of Anthropology Director Susan Rowley and the LOA Manager Patricia Ormerod. LOA and xwməθkwəy̓əm have worked together since the 1940s. Relationships have been built through collaborative archaeological excavations and fieldschools, infrastructure and research grants, and museum exhibits, and LOA is xwməθkwəy̓əm’s preferred provincial in-trust repository for housing their belongings recovered through archaeological excavations.

Project Overview

The goal of this project is to co-develop training opportunities and formalize on-the-job experience which First Nations individuals could use towards accreditation for employment in the cultural resource management (CRM) sector and/or to meet the BC Provincial Government criteria for archaeological permit holders. This 12-month project will host a series of xwməθkwəy̓əm-LOA knowledge exchange events (i.e., consultations, workshops, training sessions, summer fieldschool) to reimagine relationships through the lens of UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan, focusing specifically on reciprocal training and cross-cultural learning.

Activities will include:

  • Training for community members who wish to participate in professional archeology
  • Training for Musqueam Archeology Office employees
  • Broader archeological engagement for the wider xwməθkwəy̓əm community, particularly youth
  • Training for the UBC archaeology community (including students) by xwməθkwəy̓əm archaeologists and knowledge holders

Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) Alignment

A key goal of this project is to outline alternative pathways for archaeological accreditation while also aspiring to make post-secondary training accessible to a wider range of xwməθkwəy̓əm archaeologists and community members. By supporting archaeological training at multiple levels, including ongoing research initiatives, this project advances reciprocal, community-led, research. By engaging xwməθkwəy̓əm youth, the project team will highlight archaeology and CRM as potential future employment opportunities. This project budget ensures that participating xwməθkwəy̓əm archaeologists and community members will be compensated for their knowledge, guidance and time in both our research and curriculum design activities.

Goal 3 Moving research forward.
Support research initiatives that are reciprocal, community-led, legitimize Indigenous ways of knowing and promote Indigenous peoples’ self-determination.
Goal 6Recruiting Indigenous people.
Position UBC as the most accessible large research university globally for Indigenous students, faculty and staff.
Action 14Provide Indigenous people who are engaged in research with equitable and timely compensation that recognizes the significant value of their participation to the research process and outcomes.
Action 17Provide equitable and timely financial compensation to Indigenous people who support the Indigenization of curriculum.
Action 18Continue to partner with Indigenous communities locally and globally to develop accredited post-secondary Indigenous knowledge programs that can be delivered in communities and on campus.
Action 26Identify apprenticeships and new employment opportunities for members of, and in partnership with, Musqueam, the Okanagan Nation and other Indigenous communities.


The benefits to the First Nations communities are that such a program would provide training and capacity building leading directly to real job opportunities in the CRM industry. The University has an opportunity to consider and address issues of access to programs and new forms of accreditation that are informed by First Nations and that meet the needs of Indigenous communities. There are also clear benefits to the Anthropology Department by opening up new academic opportunities for Indigenous practitioners and undergraduate students, who can benefit from novel training opportunities.

During our project, LOA will work closely with MIB to prepare for an archaeological fieldschool to be held on xwməθkwəy̓əm traditional territory. In order to amplify Indigenous voices and perspectives, and center Indigenous ways of knowing, the fieldschool will be jointly delivered by a Musqueam Archaeology Office sessional instructor and a UBC ANTH faculty member —an exciting opportunity to further Indigenize UBC’s curriculum, while providing new pathways for course-credit for Indigenous archaeologists participating in the fieldschool.

-Project Team