1,875 to 1,075 year old projectile point found in-situ at EiOc-8 during the assessment of a proposed development southwest of Saskatoon.

In Canada, heritage is protected under provincial legislation and includes both private and provincial Crown land. The specific legislation in Saskatchewan that protects heritage is The Heritage Property Act, which was put into effect in 1980. Under The Heritage Property Act, heritage resources include archaeological or paleontological objects and sites, built heritage and structures of architectural or historical value, and any site or property where the above characteristics may reasonably be expected to be found. The importance of preserving and protecting heritage has been acknowledged in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, as well as by provincial heritage groups such as Heritage Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society. Heritage can have a positive impact on people by connecting them with others with similar backgrounds, as well as by providing a sense of belonging, unity, and wellbeing.

Saskatchewan has a rich and diverse archaeological past that can be divided into two very distinct periods: the Precontact period and the Historic period. The Precontact period describes a period before European contact with Indigenous people of what is now called Saskatchewan, while the Historic period describes the period after European contact. The Precontact period spans a very large expanse of time beginning approximately 12,000 years ago and continues uninterrupted to approximately 240 years ago. To put this antiquity into perspective, the oldest Egyptian pyramids are approximately 4,650 years old. The timeframe for the Historic period in Saskatchewan is relatively short and begins approximately 240 years ago. In this respect, the majority of archaeological sites investigated by archaeologists in this province are affiliated with pre-contact First Nations, and as such, although not a legislative requirement at this time, proper respect for any heritage resources, as well as proper consultation with the appropriate First Nation or group should be considered.

One of many tipi ring discovered during a heritage assessment of a proposed development in southwestern Saskatchewan.

Heritage legislation in Saskatchewan is regulated by the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport’s (PCS) Heritage Conservation Branch (HCB). The typical tool for the assessment of heritage resources is the Heritage Resources Impact Assessment (HRIA). The process for determining if an HRIA is required for a proposed development begins with online screening to see if the development is located on heritage-sensitive land. If the development is located on heritage-sensitive land, a detailed description of the proposed development will be required to be submitted to the HCB for review. The tools required for this process are located on the HCB’s website. If the HCB requires that an HRIA be completed for a development, the HRIA must be completed by an archaeologist who is qualified to hold permits in Saskatchewan and under a permit issued by PCS.

Archaeological sites, such as EiOc-8 discovered by Canada North Environmental (CanNorth) archaeologists during a proposed linear development southwest of Saskatoon, can often result in the discovery of important information that can add to our knowledge of ancient lifeways. An HRIA was required for this development by the HCB, and a site containing numerous artifacts, including a projectile point (arrowhead) affiliated with the Besant phase was discovered during the HRIA fieldwork. Besant projectile points have been dated in archaeological sites in Saskatchewan that are between 1,875 to 1,075 years old. Additional archaeological investigations were conducted at EiOc-8 by CanNorth archaeologists the same day as the discovery resulting in the proposed development receiving heritage clearance by PCS. At the end of the day, the client was allowed to continue with their development, and valuable heritage data for that area was collected.

Roche Percee petroglyph site in southeastern Saskatchewan.

The protection of heritage resources in Saskatchewan, in addition to being a legislative requirement, is of utmost importance and can result in positive outcomes. The Heritage Division at CanNorth, a 100 per cent First-Nation owned company based out of Saskatoon, is mindful of the stakes when conducting heritage assessments for developments in Saskatchewan. CanNorth’s Heritage Division is skilled and dedicated and has a proven track record in completing heritage assessments throughout Saskatchewan, producing high-quality, comprehensive reports that meet or exceed the requirements of the provincial regulator.