Archaeology Field School 2017: Babine River, British Columbia

D​ates: T.B.A.
Field School course package: ANTH 416-6; ANTH 417-6; ANTH 418-3.

Please check back during the late autumn of 2016 for more detailed information and applications!

Archaeology Field School 2015 - Central Coast, British Columbia

May 5 - June 16

The UNBC Department of Anthropology, the Heiltsuk Nation, and the Wuikinuvx Nation, in collaboration with the Hakai Institute are pleased to offer an archaeology field school during the summer of 2015, subject to sufficient enrolment.

This 15-credit (full semester) field school takes place in the spectacular Hakai Area, an ancestral homeland of the Heiltsuk and Wuikinuvx Nations on the central coast of British Columbia. The region has a rich Aboriginal history that spans at least 10,000 years and includes some of the earliest known archaeological sites in British Columbia. This is also one of the most scenic places in the world, with plentiful marine and terrestrial wildlife and rugged coastlines, also renowned for its world class fishing opportunities. It is not unusual for field school participants to see wildlife such as humpback whales, orcas (killer whales), dolphins, black and grizzly bears, deer, eagles and much more.


The cost of the field school is tuition for 15 credits (approximately $2,400 for Canadian residents) plus a $2,500 fee to cover the cost of logistics and project supplies. The extra fee also covers transportation to the project area from Prince George and back, as well as food in the field.

Non-Canadian residents:
Please refer to the UNBC Academic Calendar for International Students' fees.

Other costs:
Each student is responsible for providing their own textbooks, tents, sleeping bags and other personal equipment and supplies (list will be provided).


The entire program will be delivered in the field; there will be no classes on the Prince George campus. The field school crew will leave Prince George on May 5 and travel to Calvert Island via Bella Coola. The first phase takes place on Calvert island until June 3 and includes excavation of a large, ancient shell midden, site inventory survey and testing, lake coring for sea level reconstruction, and much more. Phase two takes place in a camp setting in the Bella Coola Valley and will feature: lectures, seminars, field trips and practical exercises on survey and mapping. At the end of phase two the field camp will be struck down and students will be transported back to Prince George by June 16.

Students will have until July 31 to complete and submit any outstanding assignments and exercises.

Accommodations & Camp Life
Students will have to bring their own tents and sleeping bags for the last two weeks in Bella Coola. Everyone will be a full participant in camp life, including helping with the camp set up and take down, preparing meals and caring for the equipment. Camp life is rustic but comfortable. A limited amount of electrical power is available; however, priority of use will be given to teaching and research equipment. On Calvert Island the Hakai Institute generously provides all accommodations.

Field Research at Hakai
The first phase consists of several weeks of field survey, testing and excavation at one or more archaeological sites in the Hakai and surrounding regions, and related sea level research. In 2015 the field school will integrate with research being conducted by a team from the University of Victoria. Students may have the opportunity to work with, and also learn from noted and seasoned Northwest Coast archaeologists such as Daryl Fedje, Duncan McLaren and many others. This will involve survey on foot and by boat, including the recording of any new archaeological sites, plus testing of sites and lake coring throughout the region. The group will also participate in the research excavation of a large and very deep shell midden that was formed over several thousand years by ancestors of the indigenous communities. Overall, students will receive very comprehensive training in Northwest Coast Archaeological research and they will be exposed to various types of: landscapes, sites, data collection and analysis techniques, and material culture. Archaeologists from our host communities are an integral part of the team, and so students will also learn about Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv culture histories and traditional songs.

Throughout the project participants will become familiar with basic concepts in archaeological survey and mapping, sea level reconstruction, lithic and organic technology, maritime subsistence, and they will receive training in the use of appropriate equipment. Students will learn to operate a variety of equipment from aerial photos, compass and Abney level to GPS, and total stations, and to create maps using a number of techniques. Local and long distance field trips may be undertaken to enhance learning. Students will also be introduced to issues on conducting archaeology with First Nations peoples, particularly on the importance of integrating Traditional Knowledge and oral histories. If available, Elders and other community members may share their knowledge on culture and history. In past field schools such knowledge has been in the form of story telling and song, collecting plant foods and medicinal plants, constructing summer dwellings, creating roasting pits, learning fishing and processing techniques, working with traditional technologies and more. An important goal of the field school is to encourage participants to bridge the gap between Traditional Knowledge and Western Knowledge. To foster this, university Students will take field school courses side by side with community members.

Upon completion of the field school students will have: a good grounding in the techniques and methods of archaeological survey and excavation; an understanding of Northwest Coast archaeology; and legislation pertaining to heritage management in British Columbia. Participants will also have an awareness of the social context of conducting archaeology on Aboriginal history, and the importance of Aboriginal perspectives and community-based approaches. With this training and upon graduation, students are eligible for employment in the Cultural Resource Management (CRM) sector in British Columbia. Successful completion of an archaeology field school is a necessity for employment in archaeological consulting. Several participants of our previous field schools are now employed in CRM. In the last seven years alone, more than thirty-five of our field school graduates have found employment in CRM, a very high success rate. This training will also greatly benefit students that intend to continue their studies in graduate work, or those with an interest in archaeology and/or First Nations History.

Course Descriptions

The field school package consists of three courses, for a total of 15 credits. Successful participants MUST register for all three courses; there are no exceptions.

  • ANTH 416-6 Archaeological Survey and Mapping
  • ANTH 417-6 Excavation and Field Interpretation in Archaeology
  • ANTH 418-3 Archaeology and First Nations

Click for printable copy of Course Descriptions

Students that have completed archaeology courses and are close to graduating will be given priority, followed by those that have taken ANTH 205 (Introduction to Archaeology). All students that have successfully completed any other archaeology courses (ANTH 203, ANTH 212), however, are eligible to apply. Previous course grades will be included in the ranking system for accepting applicants.

NOTE: the field school can also be taken for graduate level credit (ANTH 616-6, ANTH 617-6, ANTH 618-3).
Please contact Dr. Rahemtulla if you are interested.

Tel: 250-960-6691

Application Process

Application Deadline: February 27, 2015

  1. All potential participants must submit an application form.
  2. Once admission to the field school is granted, registration in the three courses will be permitted.
  3. Non-UNBC students will have to apply for general admission prior to registration.

Application Form

You must be accepted into the field school prior to registering for the field school courses.

Please complete the application form and forward it to Dr. Farid Rahemtulla (address at the bottom of the application form)
fax to 250-960-5545 ATTN: Dr. Rahemtulla

Click for printable copy of Application Form

Please note that a non-refundable deposit of $600 is payable upon acceptance and registration.

Contact Information

Dr. Farid Rahemtulla