About our Project

By Dr. Arzu Sardarli
Principal Investigator

The Project, “Studies of physical parameters of Indigenous artifacts; collecting and preserving the relating oral stories,” was initiated by a group of scholars from First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv), University of Regina (U of R) and Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM). The Project was supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage within the Museum Assistance Program.

More than forty people, including Elders, Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, community members, students, participated in this Project. Within the Project, we studied the principles of a research Ethics protocol for collecting, studying and preserving Indigenous artifacts, collected oral stories and determined physical parameters of Indigenous artifacts borrowed from communities and the RSM.

The Project was carried out in collaboration with Sturgeon Lake and Pelican Narrows First Nations communities. The Project was conducted from June 1, 2018, to December 31, 2020, in five phases. Within the first phase, we initiated the research Ethics review by the University of Regina. We then consulted with Elders and Knowledge Keepers regarding the research Ethics protocols for collecting and preserving the Indigenous artifacts. The consultations were carried out during the individual meetings, workshops organized in Pelican Narrows and Sturgeon Lake, and ceremonies.

Within the second phase, we trained research assistants (Indigenous students) for working in First Nations communities and at the RSM. The training included Indigenous studies and the basics of Archaeology.

Within the third phase, we interviewed Elders and Knowledge Keepers from Pelican Narrows and Sturgeon Lake and recorded their oral stories. In parallel, we collected Indigenous artifacts in the Pelican Narrows and Sturgeon Lake communities and selected samples from RSM collections for physical measurements.

Within the fourth phase, we carried out laboratory measurements on the selected artifacts. The measurements were done at the Scanning Electron Microscope Laboratory of the University of Alberta, Saskatchewan Isotope Laboratory of the University of Saskatchewan and André E. Lalonde Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory of the University of Ottawa.

Within the fifth phase, we carried out the statistical analysis of data obtained from the chemical composition measurements on artifacts, determined preliminary results of our studies and prepared materials for first publications. The preliminary results of the Project were presented to Pelican Narrows and Sturgeon Lake community members.


On behalf of our team, I would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada within the Museum Assistance Program. Additional funding and academic support came from the First Nations University of Canada, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan.

I would like to acknowledge Elders and Knowledge Keepers from Pelican Narrows- Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.

Pelican Narrows

Adam Highway

Annie Sewap

Caroline Merasty

Clara Linklater

David Custer

Gilbert Linklater

Madonna Ballentyne

Mary Ann Custer

Mildred Ratt

Sophie Anna Custer

Sturgeon Lake

Eric Bird

Frank Ermine

Garry Turner

Joseph Naytowhow

Leonard Ermine

Mike Daniels

Norma Rabbitskin

Rose Daniels

Terry Daniels

Willie Ermine, Community Coordinator

Yvonne Seesequasis

I would like to acknowledge Chief Greg Ermine, Chief Peter A. Beatty and all community members of Pelican Narrows and Sturgeon Lake for supporting the Project.

I acknowledge the help of Ms. Kate Johnson, Senior Program Advisor (Prairies and Northern Region, Ministry of Canadian Heritage, Government of Canada).

I acknowledge the great support of Dr. Evelyn Siegfried and Dr. Tim Panas, Prof. Ida Swan, Lisette Tillman and Allan Asapass in preparation of the Brochure.

I also acknowledge the ongoing support of senior management, the Finance and Human Resources departments’ staff and all colleagues from the First Nation University of Canada.

Members of Our Team

Dr. Arzu Sardarli, Principal Investigator, Project Manager (First Nations University of Canada)

Dr. Evelyn Siegfried, Investigator (Royal Saskatchewan Museum)

Prof. Ida Swan, Investigator (First Nations University of Canada)

Dr. Leta Kingfisher, Investigator (First Nations University of Canada)

Dr. Bill Patterson, Investigator (University of Saskatchewan)

Dr. Sandra Timsic, Investigator (University of Saskatchewan)

Dr. Tim Panas, Archaeology Consultant (Program/Policy Officer III for Parks Canada)

Dr. Lynn Wells, Investigator (First Nations University of Canada)

Dr. Andrei Volodin, Investigator (University of Regina)

Dr. Mauricio Barbi, Investigator (University of Regina)

Allan Asapass, English-Cree interpreter

Lisette Tillman, Editor, English-French interpreter

Margaret Brass, Community Coordinator

Grace McLeod, Community Coordinator

Jennifer Cooper, Interview Facilitator

Alyse Custer, Research Assistant

Ann Marie Dorion, Research Assistant

Jyotsnamani Mohanta, Research Assistant

Khaysa Osmanli, Research Assistant

Marah Mattison, Research Assistant

Margo Jobb, Research Assistant

Skylar Wall, Research Assistant