The shíshálh people occupy lands in southern British Columbia on the Sunshine Coast, and have done so for over 6000 years. Through this long term occupation, large shellfish deposits have been deposited in the landscape as a result of shellfish consumption practices. My Master's research investigated shellfish remains from four archaeological sites on shíshálh lands to study the intensity and seasonality of past shellfish harvesting.
These sites had previously been excavated by the shíshálh Archaeological Research Project (sARP), a collaborative project between the shíshálh Nation, the University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan, and supported researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The results showed that shellfish were a very important resource to ancestral shíshálh and occurred year-round, suggesting a year-round shíshálh occupation of these lands prior to European contact. As an archaeologist working on First Nations archaeological material it was important to me to stay in close contact with the shíshálh Nation throughout my project and to disseminate my results to them in a formal and personal manner.
Thanks to the Quick Start fund, I travelled to Sechelt, British Columbia, this past July to present my results to the shíshálh band. Following a short presentation on my project and results, I opened dialogue with attendees. They expressed how this research was important for them to establish long-term and continuous occupation of their lands and that this research highlighted how different shellfish availability is now in comparison to the past. Dialogue also opened up the possibility of expanding research to different sites in their lands in the future. The relationship between the shíshálh Nation, sARP, and Memorial University of Newfoundland is strengthened by ongoing dialogue between collaborators. Going forward, discussions with the shíshálh Nation about future archaeological shellfish-related research at Memorial will be required to expand research endeavours in this field.