First Nations sovereignty over the definition, protection and management of cultural heritage is by and large not recognized by those who hold legislative control over the management of heritage in British Columbia. This is despite the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ recognition of the right for Indigenous Peoples to “maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites.” Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations have instead found that this sovereignty can be attained through relationships with municipal governments, archaeology consultancies, academic institutions and other First Nations. These relationships promote the co-management of heritage resources according to Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh’s stated values and goals and exemplify a new model of heritage management in which settler colonialists recognize, support and uphold First Nations sovereignty over the management of cultural heritage without requiring support from legislative bodies.
Ginevra Toniello is the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Program Manager at Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Through her role, she advocates for the management and protection of archaeological and cultural heritage resources within Tsleil-Waututh territory. In addition to supervising and coordinating Tsleil-Waututh Archaeological Field Technicians for various projects, she also works to develop policies, protocols, and management and protection plans for archaeological and cultural heritage resources. Through her work, she aims to have open dialogue with various governments, businesses and academic institutions on matters related to cultural heritage.
Aviva Rathbone’s work and research is focused on the de-colonization of heritage research and management in BC. As an archaeologist with 10 years’ experience on the Northwest Coast working in the for-profit consulting industry as well as for a First Nation, she is an experienced field archaeologist as well as Coastal permit holder and certified Resource Inventory Standards Committee instructor. She is a research partner in UBC’s Indigenous/Science Research Cluster and uses her voice in all of the work she does to highlight the colonialist framework that defines, legislates, and pervades heritage management and research in BC. In her role as the Senior Archaeologist for xʷməθkʷəy̓əm̓, she works under the guidance and mentorship of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm̓ community and leadership to ensure the respectful management of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm̓ cultural heritage resources and to advocate for First Nations sovereignty over those resources. As a non-Indigenous person practising heritage management, she is committed to critically examining the discipline of archaeology and the roles played by those who practise archaeology and who perpetuate the longstanding and continued history of colonial control of First Nations cultural heritage resources. She is passionate about language revitalization, the application of queer and feminist theories to consulting archaeology, and to changing the paternalistic and colonialist framework that guides much of BC archaeology.