Archaeological Heritage Policy Framework - 1990

Archaeological heritage – archaeological sites and artifacts, their relationship to the land and to each other – documents the lives of the people who have lived in Canada over the last 20,000 years or so.

As heritage protection is an essential element in the affirmation of our Canadian identity, and as our archaeological heritage is a source of inspiration and knowledge, it is the policy of the Government of Canada to protect and manage archaeological resources.

The Importance of Archaeological Resources

As a product of and witness to past cultural achievements, Canada’s archaeological heritage is important, both to Canadians and as a part of world heritage. By protecting and managing this resources through policy, legislation and programs, the Government will achieve general symmetry with international standards and provincial measures.

Shared Responsibility

The responsibility to preserve archaeological heritage must be shared by all: the Government, the provinces, the private sector and individuals.

Collaboration between the Government and aboriginal peoples, interest groups and other jurisdictions is essential to enhancing Canadians’ awareness of archaeological heritage and the requirements for its protection.

Comprehensive Resource

The Government will adopt a comprehensive approach to ensure that all resources within the Government’s jurisdiction are protected and managed, that appropriate instruments are in place to achieve this objective, and that roles and responsibilities are clear.

Archaeological resources must be defined and their ownership determined by legislation.

The treatment of burials and grave goods; the evaluation and management of significant resources; criteria and standards to assist with impact assessments; and the management of a certification and permit system for archaeology could be the subject of regulation.

A responsibility centre is desirable to implement the policy and legislation and is to be the Government’s focal point on archaeological matters.

Use of Existing Measures

Wherever possible existing measures will be used to implement this policy.

The Federal Environmental Assessment and Review Process will be used be used to ensure that the archaeological issues are dealt with when development is being planned;

Archaeological sites of potential national significance will be referred to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada for consideration;

The Canadian Parks Service will protect and manage archaeological resources using its existing resource management regime;

The Canadian Museum of Civilization will continue its role as a repository for archaeological collections;

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council will continue to support archaeological research and professional development.

Special Needs

In recognition of the importance of archaeological heritage to aboriginal heritage to aboriginal peoples, special measures will be taken to ensure native participation in resource protection, management and interpretation.

The protection and management of archaeologically significant wreck will be accomplished by measures that will take into account their unique requirements.

The Government will enhance measures designed to encourage reduction of commercial trading and export of archaeological objects to keep these resources accessible to Canadians.

In order to maintain flexibility and to be sensitive to regional needs, the Government may develop agreements with provinces, territories, aboriginal peoples and others in matters pertaining to archaeology. Interdepartmental agreements may also be developed.

The Government will work to strengthen archaeological resource protection and management in the territories. Once they have in place legislation and a demonstrated capacity to protect and manage their resources, the Government may transfer responsibility to the territorial governments.