Ancestral Remains and Burial Grounds
The cultures that thrived across British Columbia for millennia left behind countless burial sites—sacred ground where the ancestors of today’s First Nations remain. The vast majority of those sites are unmarked, known only through oral histories or when they are uncovered, tragically, through development.
Whether a burial ground is unearthed through geomorphic activity (as in the case of Crossroads’ Green Lake project) or by more sudden and traumatic events (such as our Hagwilget project), with descendants still living in these communities, working to recover and rebury human remains requires understanding, compassion and empathy. It takes knowing the importance of tradition and ancestors to First Nations peoples who continue to live here.
Crossroads has extensive experience with burial grounds across the province, from B.C.’s Southern Interior to the Northwest. We understand the need to consult with the nation, to hear the people and to honour the traditions when working toward a successful outcome in sensitive situations. We invite you to view our documentary Sacred Ground: In Honour and in Memory of our Ancestors to experience our unique approach and cultural sensitivity.
Traditional Knowledge, Land Use and Occupancy Studies
Traditional knowledge management requires intimate cultural understanding and sensitivity.
Appropriate traditional knowledge management requires trust and established relationships. The intimacy involved in sharing traditional information is not easily obtained. Crossroads CRM is proficient at establishing trust and building relationships, which are foundational to working with First Nations and sharing information. We understand that obtaining and managing traditional knowledge takes time. We respect timelines of all clients and groups with which we work. We have also found that cross-cultural education is imperative in understanding different perspectives. We excel in this regard.
Traditional use studies must be performed by First Nations and anthropologists, as they are highly cultural in nature.
The difference between archaeological and traditional use sites becomes apparent during negotiations between neighbouring First Nations regarding overlapping land claims when accurate mapping of territorial limits becomes crucial.
Determining accurate boundaries may be achieved by mapping either ‘use’ or ‘occupancy’ but as traditional resources may have been accessed by more than one nation, determining sovereignty through use may be difficult to ascertain. Occupancy of locations over time in which people have deep knowledge of landscapes, legends and ecology would likely be a more appropriate method of territorial mapping.
Repatriation and Reclamation of Cultural Resources
Canada has no federal legislation regarding the repatriation of cultural resources to First Nations communities. Some provinces have their own legislation; however, it can prove difficult to navigate this legislation across provincial boundaries. In British Columbia, requests for repatriation are often handled at the discretion of the institution holding the artifacts.
We recognize that undergoing the process of repatriation and reclamation can be a taxing and complicated process. First Nations’ groups wishing to go through this process can face numerous challenges due to cultural boundaries, terminology, legal limitations and the absence of written documentation. While the physical repatriation of artifacts may not always be feasible, we can work towards other solutions that may be acceptable to all parties, including inter-institutional loans, visits and exchange programs, and online digital-archive access.
Although there is no perfect solution, we are able to collaborate with First Nations communities and the institution housing their resources to work toward innovative and collaborative solutions that help to resolve the situation, ensuring that the culture, beliefs and history of the community are respected, while allowing the institution to maintain its integrity and professionalism.
Archaeological and Heritage Assessments
At Crossroads CRM we do more than just archaeology. We emphasize the importance of all cultural resources and work diligently to protect our heritage values by addressing the gaps in the archaeological and historical record that exist in our province.
Crossroads CRM has performed countless archaeological and heritage resource management assessments for all sectors of the cultural resource management industry. Moreover, since we have close relationships with the First Nations within British Columbia, our assessments integrate seamlessly with all of our other services, such as culture and heritage studies, traditional knowledge and land use studies, and environmental and socio-economic impact studies. We are particularly adept at ensuring our projects go beyond typical data-based studies to focus on understanding multiple perspectives, relationship building and mitigating culturally sensitive issues, especially when it comes to human remains and spiritual sites.
All of our archaeologists have field director status and are able to hold heritage inspection permits in British Columbia. We are also members of the BC Association of Consulting Archaeologists, the BC Association of Heritage Professionals, the Canadian Archaeological Association, the Society of American Archaeology and the Canadian Anthropological Society. Our team follows the guidelines set by the BC Archaeology Branch and the Heritage Branch to promote the protection of cultural resources under the Heritage Conservation Act.
Reconciliation and Negotiation
For over 100 years, Aboriginal children were removed from their families and sent to institutions called residential schools. The government-funded, church-run schools were located across Canada and established with the purpose of eliminating parental involvement in the spiritual, cultural and intellectual development of Aboriginal children. The last residential schools closed in the mid-1990s.
During this chapter in Canadian history, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were forced to attend these schools, some of which were hundreds of miles from their homes. The cumulative impact of residential schools is a legacy of unresolved trauma passed from generation to generation and it has had a profound effect on the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians.
Collective efforts from all peoples are necessary to revitalize the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and Canadian society—reconciliation is the goal. It is a goal that will take the commitment of multiple generations, but when it is achieved, it will make for a better, stronger Canada.
Crossroads’ unparalleled cultural sensitivity, extensive multi-stakeholder and First Nations negotiation experience positions us to be leaders in this newly emerging field. Currently, we are working with several First Nations to explore how this new field of research benefits multiple perspectives.
Cultural, Social and Economic Impact Assessments
Impact assessments are an increasingly important tool in resource management.
The impacts of development on communities and Indigenous cultures within British Columbia are highly relevant in the resource management industry. In order to appropriately determine the impact of a development upon a community or culture, we must employ an anthropological approach, something not entirely prevalent in the resource management industry. Anthropology is the only appropriate discipline from which to study culture from the holistic perspective that is required to create a comprehensive cultural impact assessment.
Crossroads CRM staffs applied anthropologists experienced in assessing, measuring and mitigating the effects of development on First Nations culture. We recognize and prioritize the value and significance of cultural assessments.
We specialize in social and cultural impacts assessments, which document areas or resources of cultural importance, and assess the potential impacts of a proposed development on these areas. Most importantly, such studies must manage for intangible aspects of cultural resource management, such as physical and spiritual impacts to people and their sense of place.
Anthropological and Ethnographic Studies
Crossroads has extensive experience in anthropological and ethnographic studies. Specifically, we emphasize the integration of scientific and academic information, traditional knowledge and community-based research.
Resource management is experiencing an increase in Aboriginal involvement with a focus on cultural studies and the Indigenous perspective. As a result, the need for applied anthropologists’ involvement has never been higher. Crossroads has been at the forefront of incorporating socio-cultural research into regulatory and other resource management processes for over a decade. Some of the studies that we have performed include:
We offer comprehensive literature reviews to our clients; we assess existing information and recommend areas for further investigation under a Gap or SWOT analysis. We focus on key components in helping you organize your literature review including:
- Finding and analyzing relevant research, with a focus on works pertaining to your field of study
- Reviewing current and relevant findings and studies, concentrating on their relation to your specific research question and facet of study
- Identifying gaps in the literature and helping to identify where new research could be important
We use a variety of libraries (both physical and online) to access full-text scholarly works. Our unique resources allow us to attain the deepest understanding of the background and existing literature relevant to your study.
Natural resource and industrial development have significant consequences for indigenous peoples, particularly for those choosing to maintain a traditional relationship with their land. Understanding this perspective, Crossroads CRM has provided technical reviews and consultation on environmental assessments on a variety of projects in the province using a multi-disciplinary approach and our broad range of experience to manage substantial environmental reviews.
Oral History Interviews and Interpretation:
Understanding and trusting oral histories is vital to understanding First Nations culture and history.
Oral history may be defined as the preservation, recording and interpretation of historical information based upon the personal experiences and opinion of the speaker. One component may involve eye-witness accounts of events of the past, but often include folklore, myths, stories and artistic expression passed down through the generations by word of mouth. It preserves the knowledge and understanding of older generations, but also involves younger generations as cultural and historic knowledge is passed through them to future generations. Oral histories contain information on lifeways, morality, technology, spirituality and past events.
Crossroads CRM is highly experienced in oral historical management. We emphasize the highest standard of social scientific interview methods, and ensure ethical research approaches to community engagement.
We continue to search anthropological theory, case studies and the ethnographic record for new and innovative techniques that may be applicable to our research. We combine ethnographic field techniques, academic research, and field observations with in-depth interviewing and detailed cross-cultural analysis to produce meaningful results to our research questions.
Cultural tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global tourism industry. In a highly competitive market, cultural tourism is being developed to attract world travellers who desire a unique cultural experience along with their idyllic beach walks and gorgeous landscapes. Increasingly, tourists who seek a unique indigenous cultural experience are being drawn to First Nations art and artifacts.
Cultural tourism can benefit First Nations by bringing in tourist dollars which enrich local economies, as well as educating a broader segment of society regarding First Nations’ culture, life ways, and histories. By helping First Nations to promote their cultural and creative industries to new eyes and ears, Crossroads CRM has helped them get on the forefront of the cultural tourism wave; we help First Nations share their tangible and intangible cultural offerings with the world. It’s the next frontier for First Nations, both in BC and abroad.
Community Capacity Building
We are strong believers in the value of education, training and capacity building. All of our projects include some component that reflects this belief.
Because we are intimately connected with the people and landscapes of north-central British Columbia, we are able to offer applied research and learning opportunities unmatched by other agencies. Crossroads has trained and educated students in CRM throughout the region, as well as provided professional development for industry, government and community groups. By collaborating with the University of Northern British Columbia, College of New Caledonia and Northwest Community College, we have successfully connected the entire northern British Columbia region with respect to applied education and skills development.
Community capacity building is a Crossroads priority. We facilitate a wide variety of capacity building methods. For example, we ensure that all forms of data and reporting is provided to First Nations. Building individual skills is another form of capacity building; we foster this by including community members in all aspects of a project, from developing initial ideas to writing the final report.
LAND USE POLICY AND ENVIRONMENTALMANAGEMENT
We are the only company that brings true CRM to the environmental assessment processes.
Undoubtedly, the land use planning and environmental assessment processes are complicated. Government, industry, First Nations and community agencies all compete for their interests to be recognized. However, an unquestionable and increasing trend is towards prioritizing social and cultural interests. We are at an interesting time, where our federal and provincial EA processes do not require meaningful cultural studies, yet for the First Nations of British Columbia this is an essential element of the process. Crossroads CRM has an extensive portfolio of projects that manage both perspectives in a respectful manner. We staff the most experienced and extensive array of social scientists in the resource management industry in British Columbia. This allows us to provide a unique perspective for our industry clients, which is required in today’s complex resource development industry.
We also perform independent Land Use Plan/Policy and EA application reviews on behalf of First Nations and other interest groups.