This bulletin is intended to help the licensed consultant archaeologist engage Aboriginal communities in archaeology as effectively as possible. It summarizes the direction on Aboriginal community engagement set out in the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists and provides information and resources to assist consultant archaeologists in successfully following the standards and guidelines. In this context, engagement means involving Aboriginal communities in each stage of an archaeological project, to the extent and in the manner that best suits their interests and the needs of the project.

Archaeology is particularly relevant to Aboriginal communities because it can help to document Aboriginal histories and peoples and to identify sacred sites and ancestral remains. Engaging Aboriginal communities in archaeology will improve understanding of an archaeological project and enrich the archaeological record. The process demonstrates respect for Aboriginal interests and heritage, recognizes Aboriginal peoples’ connection to the land, and allows everyone to benefit from their knowledge.

Engagement considers the interest of Aboriginal communities in the archaeological assessment, the protection of Aboriginal archaeological sites, and the disposition of Aboriginal artifacts and ancestral remains. It also seeks to build relationships with Aboriginal communities that will facilitate their engagement in future projects. Effective engagement requires good planning and begins early in the project. The Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries (the Ministry) is committed to continual review of the technical bulletin with Aboriginal communities and archaeology stakeholders and will update the bulletin as needed to ensure that it is useful, effective and current. The ministry welcomes feedback from Aboriginal communities and archaeologists.


Section 1 outlines when to engage Aboriginal communities during archaeological work and summarizes the sections of the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists that relate to Aboriginal community engagement.

The standards set basic requirements for conducting archaeological fieldwork and are mandatory for all consultant archaeologists practising in Ontario as a term and condition of licence. Failure to follow these standards may result in suspension, revocation or refusal to renew a licence under the Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.18.

The guidelines describe practices that will increase the likelihood of successful engagement and reduce the chances of delays. Although not mandatory, the Ministry recommends that consultant archaeologists follow the guidelines.

Section 2 and Section 3 build on the guidelines with additional information on effective approaches to engagement that have emerged in recent years. These sections cover whom to engage and how, managing input from Aboriginal communities, and reporting back to Aboriginal communities and the Ministry on the archaeological project.

Section 4 provides an overview of other roles and responsibilities in the archaeological assessment process, including proponents, approval authorities, and the Ministry.

Section 5 provides resources to help you identify the Aboriginal communities that may have an interest in the site.

Section 6 provides a bibliography for consultant archaeologists seeking a basic starting point for understanding contemporary Aboriginal communities, issues, and cultural histories, and for those seeking more in-depth information.

Section 7 provides a glossary of terms related to Aboriginal community engagement.