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Children learn to protect aboriginal heritage sites

Legs crisscrossed in a circle, the little bodies attached wiggling with excitement as artifacts make the rounds.

Erin Willows, an archeologist with Stantec Consulting, passes around a “projectile point”, an arrowhead crafted of chip stone by First Nations people 9,000 years ago.

The artifacts spark conversation among the group of four-ish year-olds at Discovery House Childcare Centre as they celebrated National Aboriginal Day (June 21) with a little dig of their own. The Stantec Consultants were at the centre to help the children learn about local First Nation heritage and how to handle and protect archeological finds.

Lined up like the dwarves in Snow White, they set out singing to the backyard where the ‘beach’ area was littered with little artifacts for the children to find.

Willows starts by explaining where an archeologist might search for artifacts, starting with areas with water and food sources plus flat, dry ground.

“We go in with our shovels, and we start digging up and testing the ground and we look for the artifacts,” Willows said. “We dig the dirt out, we also brush the dirt away, and we stick it through screens. In the screens, that’s where we find the artifacts.”

The kids already knew not to tamper with artifacts if they find them, but learned from the archeologists where they might see such finds.

“Once we take them out of the ground, all the artifacts we get go to the museum so people can go in and look at them. And then they get protected,” Willows said, adding that they go to the Royal BC Museum.

Once shown the way, the kids disappeared in a flurry of sand and stone discovering a plethora of artifacts, from stones with images imprinted on them, to painted sticks, to commemorate the day.

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