An ASI cemetery project from 2008.

An ASI cemetery project from 2008.

Identifying the limits of unmarked cemeteries has become a priority for many clients in recent years. Boundary demarcations and available mapping of grave locations for 19th and early 20th century cemeteries are often unreliable. While remote sensing techniques may be able to provide provisional boundary information as well as numbers of interments present at a site, only physical evidence resulting from “ground-truthing” should be used for planning purposes. Indeed, only exploratory excavations provide clients with the necessary information for better planning and protection of unmarked cemeteries.

In certain situations, specifically when it is in the public interest, it may be necessary to excavate isolated burials or unmarked cemeteries that are threatened by development so that these human remains may be re-interred in a permanent, protected cemetery. In recent years, ASI has carried out a large number of these specialized operations with the technical support of biological anthropologists. Both pre-contact and historic human remains are carefully removed only after full and meaningful consultation with First Nation Councils, surviving next-of-kin, and the appropriate government and non-government agencies, as prescribed by the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act.