2023 UVic Tsawout Field School

Field schools
Fieldwork at ȾEL¸IȽĆE, Cordova Bay

This summer 2023 field school will not be offered again in the future.


UVic-Tsawout 2023 Archaeological Field School at ȾEL¸IȽĆE



UVic and Tsawout First Nation have combined forces to host the 2023 summer archaeology field school, focusing on the ancient village site of ȾEL¸IȽĆE in Cordova Bay. This groundbreaking project marks the first research-focused archaeological endeavor at the original village site of the South Saanich Treaty, one of the Douglas Treaties. By bringing together UVic undergraduate and graduate students with youth and cultural workers from W̱SÁNEĆ communities, the collaboration aims to deepen our understanding of Indigenous histories and relationships with Cordova Bay.

Throughout the month-long investigation, the project aims to provide robust baseline mapping through various techniques like Ground Penetrating Radar, soil probes, and shovel tests. These efforts will shed light on elements of the village site, associated cultural landscapes, and the rich histories of Indigenous peoples' lives in Cordova Bay. Alongside the archaeological work, oral histories and ceremonies will be given significant attention, honoring the ongoing connections between W̱SÁNEĆ peoples and this ancestral cultural landscape.


Taking place on waterfront lands held by the District of Saanich, the project receives support under the ÁTOL,NEUEL Memorandum of Understanding with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council. The field school, running from June 28 to August 2, 2023, as UVic ANTH 343/344, will map out the footprint of the ancient ȾEL¸IȽĆE village and surrounding areas of Indigenous use and occupancy. Excavations will be conducted at various locations, including Agate Lane, McMorran, Cordova Bay Parks, waterfront road ends, and intertidal archaeological rock features.

Who is involved:

Led by professor Brian Thom (UVic Anthropology) and senior archaeologist Heather Pratt, the field school will involve 12 undergraduate students and 2 graduate students from UVic. Moreover, youth and cultural workers from W̱SÁNEĆ and Lək̓ʷəŋən communities will participate as paid field assistants. While the excavations won't be open to the public, a "public archaeology" campaign will be conducted, including site tours and drop-in information sessions led by students. The Cordova Bay Association of Community Affairs and the District of Saanich Parks staff have been valuable partners in communicating the project to the local community.

Community awareness:

Our upcoming work has been featured on CBC Radio, the Times Colonist, and Chek TV, as well as being featured in The Cordovan, the community newsletter for Cordova Bay which was hand delivered throughout the community.  UVic News department has written it up for a story in the upcoming issue of The Ring


Contributions from businesses and community members play a crucial role in supporting archaeological collaboration, fostering recognition, reconciliation, and a better understanding of Cordova Bay's Indigenous histories and teachings.

We have a fundraising goal of $35,000 to ensure the involvement of Indigenous community members, conduct a public information campaign, perform radiocarbon dating, provide practical security on site, and acquire necessary equipment. Donations to the "Cordova Bay Archaeology Project" can be made payable to the University of Victoria, with 100% of the funds allocated to this specific initiative.

UVic will issue tax receipts for all donations. Please contact UVic Development Office (soscdevt@uvic.ca; 250-721-6044) for more details on making a donation.  Thank you!




Dates: June 28 to Aug 2, 2023

InstructorsDr. Brian Thom and co-instructor archaeologist Heather Pratt.

Credits: total of 3 credits

  • ANTH 343: Archaeological Field Techniques - 1.5 credits
  • ANTH 344: Regional Topics in Archaeology - 1.5 credits

UVic and Tsawout First Nation have partnered to run the 2023 summer archaeology fieldschool at the ancient village site of ȾEL¸IȽĆE in Cordova Bay. This will be the first research-focused archaeological project ever done at the original village site of the South Saanich Treaty (one of the Douglas Treaties). The collaboration will bring UVic undergraduate and graduate students together with youth and cultural workers from W̱SÁNEĆ First Nation communities.  The fieldschool will take place on lands held by the District of Saanich in the Cordova Bay area.

For more information on what, why, where and who please see this document

Applications are now closed.

Fees: $800

Non-UVic student applicants: please read this document which outlines the processes and costs associated with participating in this field school as a non-UVic student.

Important Dates:

  • February 15, 2023: Application deadline
  • March 31, 2023: Payment due
  • June 28 to Aug 1, 2023: Field school dates

For potential funding and scholarship support see here.