Dylan Hillis

Dylan Hillis

MA student


Iain McKechnie


Evolution and ecology
Space, place, knowledge and power

I would like to acknowledge with respect the privilege it is to work and study in the Indigenous lands of the Esquimalt, Lekwungen, Songhees and WSÁNEC peoples. I was born and raised on Salt Spring Island and grew up amongst the southern Gulf Islands – lands which reside within the traditional territories of Coast Salish peoples. As a descendent of settler-colonials, my family has resided upon the Northwest Coast of North America for four generations and has primarily engaged in the forestry and fishing industries; this heritage motivates my interest in historical ecology and resource management.

I am a master’s student working under the supervision of Dr. Iain McKechnie in the Historical Ecology and Coastal Archaeology (HECA) Lab. I completed my Bachelor of Arts at the University of Victoria in 2018, double majoring in Anthropology and Geography with a focus on environmental sustainability. In the final year of my undergraduate degree, I conducted original scientific research for my honours, which examined dietary variation in ancient domestic dogs on the West Coast of Vancouver Island (Barkley Sound), Tseshaht Territory. Since finishing my degree, I have continued to work in Dr. McKechnie’s HECA Lab as a research assistant, where I have expanded stable isotope modelling techniques, conducted field work and assisted with the Archaeology Field School in Barkley Sound. Outside of academia, my interests include birding, cartography, habitat restoration, hiking, kayaking, organic gardening, and world travel.

My master’s research aims to investigate ocean temperature change over the last few thousand years, on the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America, using a historical approach to zooarchaeological data. Specifically, I am interested in how historic fish populations have responded to dynamic ocean temperatures, and how fish populations will likely respond to a warming ocean in the current context of a climate crisis and what this means for the food security of coastal communities.


2020 Dylan Hillis, Iain McKechnie, Eric Guiry, Denis E. St. Claire, & Chris T. Darimont. Ancient Dog Foods on the Pacific Northwest Coast: Zooarchaeological and Stable Isotope Modelling Evidence from Tseshaht Territory and Beyond. Scientific Reports (in review).