Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Updated: Summary of Archaeology Cuts to Parks Canada Agency

I don't know if we'll get an official summary of the cuts to Archaeology in Parks Canada.  But these are the devastating numbers that I've collected from friends and colleagues so far. As the picture comes into focus,  its not getting any prettier.  I'm making updates and corrections to this post as I hear more. Leave a comment, or if you'd prefer;  The italicised Work Force Adjustment summary numbers come from a Parks Canada document that was summarized by the archaeologists at the University of Laval - their letters of concern are copied at the bottom of this post.

British Columbia:
  • Work Force Adjustment summary: 1 of 2 archaeologists lost. The remaining position will be lost in September, leaving 0 archaeologists on the Pacific Coast.

Calgary, Alberta:
  • Lab Closing, artifacts going to Ottawa
  • 10 of 14 cultural heritage positions affected or lost
  • 2 Archaeologists left in Western Region
  • Work Force Adjustment summary: 6 of  7 (CBC says 8) archaeologists lost, 1 assistant archaeologist remains

Winnipeg, Manitoba:
  • Lab Closing, artifacts going to Ottawa
  • Work Force Adjustment summary: 3 archaeology positions left in Western and Northern regions; down from 10

Cornwall, Ontario:
  • Lab Closing, artifacts going to Ottawa
  • 1 Archaeologist left (reduced to seasonal); down from 9 employed before April 1, 2012.
  • Material Culture Researchers; 3 retired, 3 'affected', 1 reduced to seasonal
  • Collections Managers; 1 fired, 2 retained
  • Work Force Adjustment summary: 6 of 7 archaeology positions lost, 1 junior part time archaeologist left

Ottawa, Ontario:
  • Archaeological Services Branch: 4 of 8 archaeology policy positions lost
    • Archaeology Policy no longer has a voice at management table 
  • Work Force Adjustment summary: 
    • Underwater Archaeology Section; untouched.
    • Material Culture Section; all 5 researchers gone.

Quebec City, Quebec:
  • Lab Closing, Quebec artifacts going to Ottawa
  • 1 Archaeologist left; down from 27 people who worked at Gare Maritime Champlain last year. (read Pierre Cloutier's letter about the cuts in Quebec)
  • 1 collections Manager; job relocated to Ottawa
  • 3 conservators; all relocated to Ottawa
  • Work Force Adjustment summary: 10 of 12 archaeology positions lost, 1 archaeologist and 1 curator of collections to remain

Halifax, Nova Scotia:
  • Lab Closing (Dartmouth), Atlantic artifacts going to Ottawa
  • 2 Archaeologists left; down from 3 Archaeologists, 3 Material Culture Researchers, and 1 admin assistant at its peak
  • 1 Collections Manager
  • Louisbourg has 1 Archaeologist and 1 Collections Manager (reduced to seasonal)
  • Work Force Adjustment summary: 8 of 12 archaeologists lost

Arctic Canada:
  • Work Force Adjustment summary: 1 archaeologist to cover all of the Arctic.
  • Update: The sole Arctic archaeology specialist position has been surplussed. 

National Programming Cuts:
  • Parks Canada conservators reduced from 33 to 8
  • Education Outreach Program has been scrapped
  • GIS staff eliminated from Service Centres and Field Units.
  • Interpretive staff being replaced by self-guided tours at 27 National Historic Sites across Canada. (Port au Choix, Castle Hill, and Ryan Premises on the list for Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Historical Research Branch - 3 of the 3 positions related to First Nations' culture, history, archaeological sites, and cultural landscapes eliminated (contrary to Parks Canada's Strategic Priority to commemorate Aboriginal History)
  • According to a Parks Canada organizational flowchart, the new Parks Canada Cultural Sciences Branch "will focus on historical research and terrestrial and underwater archaeological research at both the national and the field level." 45 management (n=7) and staff positions (n=38) will be divided into four sections:
    • Historical Research which will provide research in support of Agency priorities and projects, the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. 2 Research Managers, 13 Historians
    • A Field Research Program which will provide historical research services for field units. 1 Field Research Program Manager, 9 Historians
    • Underwater Archaeology will continue to undertake underwater archaeology projects in support of field units and other functional areas of the Agency. 1 Underwater Archaeology Manager, 7 Underwater Archaeologists/Diving Technicians
    • Terrestrial Archaeology which will provide terrestrial archaeological services to field units and other functional areas of the Agency. 1 Terrestrial Archaeology Manager, 10 Archaeologists

Letters, Interviews, and Articles:

Rob Ferguson, a retired Parks Canada Archaeologist, is interviewed on this Information Morning Nova Scotia clip (May 8, 2012).

Pierre Cloutier's letter about the cuts in Quebec.  Pierre is the last Parks Canada archaeologist left working in Quebec after these cuts. (May 10, 2012)

Archaeologists and conservators in Nova Scotia discuss the impact of closing the Parks Canada Lab in Dartmouth in the CBC story below. (May 11, 2012)

Parcs Canada abolit 45 postes à Québec. La Presse (May 16, 2012)

Here's an interview that I did with the Corner Brook Morning Show about this issue (May 16, 2012).

Here's an interview that I did with the Central Morning Show in Grand Falls-Windsor (May16,2012).  My section starts at 8:44 in and No, I'm not a Parks Canada archaeologist, although I frequently do reproduction work for them.  In the interview I refer to 19 archaeologists in Cornwall, Ontario being reduced to 1 - that was a bit of a fumble on my part - the 19 people I was referring to includes archaeologists, material culture researchers, and collections managers.  The detailed breakdown is listed above.

Job Cuts will Hurt the Preservation of Canada's Past, Say Experts. Toronto Star, May 17, 2012

Lettre de l'Association des archéologues du Québec au sujet des coupures à Parcs Canada.  May 17, 2012

Parks Canada mum on lease for building set to close. Chronicle Herald, May 19, 2012

Goodbye live interpreters, hello smart-phone apps. Globe and Mail, May 20, 2012

Bringing National Parks to People. Globe and Mail, May 20, 2012. Contains this quote about the cuts to Parks Canada: "The rest of the cuts, 70 per cent, will affect scientists and social scientists, as well as the people that curate and conserve artifacts and collections or who are involved in planning and public consultations, said Mr. Fisher. Programs to introduce people, including new Canadians, to camping in the parks will remain. "

Parks Canada staffing cuts spark worry: Federal agency also plans to move regional labs and artifact collections to Ottawa. CBC Calgary, May 22, 2012

Archaeology Cuts. Calgary Eyeopener, CBC, May 22, 2012

Archaeology Parks Cuts. As It Happens, CBC Radio, May 22, 2012. I've done contractual work for Parks Canada making reproductions and filming knapping demos, but I don't work at L'Anse aux Meadows or make reproductions exclusively for Parks as suggested in the interview.

L'archéologie canadienne sous les coupures. Agence Science-Presse, May 22, 2012

Parks Canada job cuts felt far and wide throughout Rockies. Calgary Herald, May 23, 2012. "King said in Alberta, for example, 80 per cent of the archeologists doing field work within national parks will no longer have jobs."

Society for American Archaeology Letter of concern to Prime Minister Harper. May 23, 2012

Is Parks Canada considering selling historic collections? Peter Pope's interview on the Central Morning Show, Newfoundland. May 24, 2012.

Parks Canada Cuts. Society for Historical Archaeology Blog. May 24, 2012. Contains the SHA letter of concern to Prime Minister Harper.

Permit glitch holds up cemetery work. The Chronicle Herald. May 26, 2012.  Without Parks Canada archaeologists, there is no one to issue permits for other researchers who want to work in Parks.

Draconian cuts to Parks Canada. Canadian Archaeological Association President William Ross responds to the cuts to Parks Canada Archaeology. May 30, 2012.

Budget Cuts to Parks Canada. Of Cemeteries and Cellars: The Archaeological Diary of Grand-Pré. June 1, 2012. First hand account of what these cuts mean for archaeology and Canadians.

Canadian Archaeology and the Age of Austerity. Heritage Business Journal. June 5, 2012. By Jim Finnigan.

The Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology. Letter of concern to Prime Minister Harper. June 5, 2012

Parks Canada urged to abandon artifact move.  CBC News Nova Scotia. June 6, 2012. "It's not a way to run a Federation - its a way to dismantle a Federation."

Parks Canada Archaeology Being Decimated. Anthropology News, American Anthropological Association. June 6, 2012. By Bob Muckle. "Parks Canada archaeology is unlikely to ever again be the excellent model for heritage research, management, conservation, education, and publication it once was; and that’s a shame."

Compressions fédérales - De l’utilité évidente de l’archéologie. Le Devoir. June 7, 2012. by Christian Gates St-Pierre

Closing archeology lab against UN spirit: SMU prof. CBC News Nova Scotia. June 8, 2012. Interview with Jonathan Fowler.

History sent packing by Cuts. Winnipeg Free Press. June 12, 2012. "They are literally closing down the vast majority of records and our heritage and our history"

Manitoba history shipped to Ottawa. CBC News Manitoba. June 12, 2012.

Pétition : Protection du patrimoine culturel et historique du Québec. Assemblée nationale du Québec. June 13, 2012.

Parks Canada Minister defends artifact move.  CBC News. June 13, 2012

Une employée «déloyale» de Parcs Canada doit rester chez elle. Le Soleil. June 14, 2012. Punitive measures against Parks Canada Quebec region head of archaeology for unloyal comportment (she supported redundant staff).

Hyperbole of Historic Proportions.  Winnipeg Free Press. June 14, 2012.

Moving historic artifacts to Quebec 'stupid, insensitive' . Vancouver Sun. June 15, 2012. "The Conservatives, who were once all about decentralization, are now, apparently, all for it, moving the cultural heritage of Canadians from the regions where it originated to a Central Canada warehouse where nobody will be able to get at it."

Canada's archaeologists angry over budget cuts. Global National. June 22, 2012. "Just like it's important for individuals to have memory, it's important for societies to have memory."

University of Laval Archaeologists Respond to the Cuts (English)


What Can You Do?

How can you help? Write, phone or e-mail your local MP and the following officials:
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada,
Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment,
James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages,
Alan Latourelle, Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada

Photo Credits: Screen Capture from Parks Canada's Archaeology webpage


  1. Uh, that sounds just terrible!

  2. Its a pretty awful time for Parks Canada, the Environment, Archaeology, and our Federal Scientists here in Canada. The current government seems intent on driving us into a new Dark Age. I think we need to pay attention to these cuts, because there are even worse things on the horizon. Archaeology sites outside of the Parks system are going to be in danger when new 24 month streamlined environmental review processes are put in place. That's not enough time to inventory and mitigate all the archaeological resources in the path of major developments. With these Parks cuts, at least we understand what we are losing. With the changes to the environmental review (which archaeology is a part of) we won't even have time to understand what parts of our heritage are being affected before the bulldozers come through.

  3. The gutting of entire programs in the Canadian Civil Service is absolutely horrifying - to me it smacks of a "Cultural Revolution" zeal, where the anti-culture forces get to destroy all they have loathed in the past. Parks Canada has been given a blow it will not soon recover from. Programs from other departments that are just as important, now to be erased, include DFO's marine pollution program - 75 positions, most especially on the east and west coast, that analyze and monitor marine pollution and inshore health.
    The fervor and carelessness of these cuts takes it into the area of zeal to erase our past,and our future.

  4. I agree - these cuts really can't be justified under the guise of fiscal responsibility. They are targeted at the people who could speak up for the environment and heritage in this country and are much too thorough to be simply scaling back. The Harper government is willing to spend money to ensure that these people and programmes are silenced and can't be rebuilt (ie. Closing an archaeology lab in Dartmouth with 17 years and $7 million still owing on the lease). Its not just restraint, its targeting and eradicating points of view that contradict their philosophy.

  5. First of all Tim great job defending the importance of Parks Canada archaeology on "As It Happens". Parks Canada is one of two federal regulatory bodies for archaeology and Parks is being gutted. This leaves the Indian Oil and Gas Commission (IOGC) as the main federal regulator. IOGC deals mainly with archaeology on Reserve lands, and as far as I understand, has no archaeologists on staff, and relies on Parks Canada archaeologists for input on regulating the archaeology on these lands.
    This with the streamlining of the environmental review process will change how we do archaeology in Canada in a dramatic way. With the review process timeline being shortened, are the provincial regulators going to be pressured to speed up their review process? Is this going to result in the archaeological consulting community being pressured to complete their assessments in a shorter time period?
    A good example is the Express pipeline we worked on (and thanks for posting those pictures for me). Our field season is short, we had to do the project over two years, the first field season was finding all the sites along the pipeline right-of-way, write the report in the winter making the recommendations for mitigation. The second field season was carrying out the mitigation as set out by the provincial regulatory body, write the final mitigation report in the winter and wait for approval of the mitigation measures from the provincial government. Based on the results we gathered at each site the provincial government has or could call for further mitigation at sites that have potential for significant archaeological information which could mean work in a third field season. With the shortened review process will the provincial regulatory bodies be pressured not to do further work at “mitigated” sites?

  6. Well said Rob. Archaeology is being set up to fail with these restrictions to staffing and infrastructure in Parks Canada and on the CRM front with the expectations of a 24 month turn around on major projects. Parks Canada archaeologists are capable of doing really ground-breaking research, but not at these staffing levels with all their other responsibilities. And Cultural Resource Management is capable of making solid scientific contributions to Archaeology, but not on this sort of timetable. Work will suffer, further devaluing the discipline.

    The current budget and everything else buried in Bill C38 is terrible news for this country.

  7. thank you so much for highlighting and compiling these awful stats, the magnitude of these devastating cuts would not otherwise be announced till well after the budget passes if they had they're way.... gosh what infuriating times!

  8. Thanks for the great write-up Tim, I was trying to share through facebook, but your blog has been blocked for sharing on facebook.

  9. It seems like people have started having problems with Blogger and Facebook over the past few days. One suggestion that I've heard working for other people's blogs was to switch the .ca extension for .com when trying to share. Its worked for some people.

  10. Hi Mr. Rast. Thanks so much for detailing what's happening. I just started up a political blog and wrote about cuts to Parks Canada, and found your thoughts and research very helpful, and insightful.

    Also, I see I missed you on As It Happens, which I normally listen to religiously. I'll check out the podcast.


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