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Award-winning research in unknown

By Michelle Osmond

A Memorial PhD student has won the Robert McGee Award from the Northern Scientific Training Program. Scott Neilsen’s research builds directly on the pioneering research undertaken in Labrador during the 1970s by Dr. Robert McGee, for whom the award is named, when he was a young professor at Memorial University.

Mr. Neilsen’s project is titled Archaeology Beyond the Horizon: Innu Land Tenure in Labrador West. It’s a multi-year project documenting the archaeological record of the Labrador interior – an area which has never been the subject of archaeological research – and to interpret the cultural history of the region.

To date, only coastal sites have been used to interpret the region's cultural history. The research also draws on archaeological literature from neighbouring Quebec to develop a better context of prehistoric cultural events predating provincial boundaries.

Mr. Neilsen is working with members of the Innu Nation and other community members to exchange local knowledge about the land use and is hoping his research will lead to new exhibits at the Gateway Museum in Labrador West.

Mr. Neilsen, who is entering his third-year of PhD studies, came to Memorial from New Brunswick in 2003 for MA research in Labrador and his love of the place and its people compelled him to continue in the PhD program.

“I chose Memorial because of its reputation as the best archaeology school in Atlantic Canada. Plus it gave me an opportunity to do fieldwork in Labrador,” he said.

“The MA and PhD program at MUN are both very good. They give students the opportunity to learn a variety of archaeological theories and methods, and don’t force students into a single vein. In other words students are free to come to their own stance or view point. The programs also give students the opportunity to conduct primary research, including fieldwork.”

Mr. Neilsen has received numerous awards since becoming a Memorial student.
The Robert McGee Award is valued at $1,000.