Hey everyone! If there’s one thing you all know about me by now, it’s that I am absolutely in love with my research! That, and I just can’t seem to stop talking about it…but the thing is, I had to love it. When I set out to find a grad school program, I had to find myself something that would be worth it. After all, a Master’s degree was going to take up the bulk of 2+ years of my life! It was going to require me to move away! And, of course, it was going to significantly impact my future within the field of archaeology.
So, back in 2015, I put out feelers, applied to a few schools, received a few offers, but at the end of the day, coming to Memorial to work with my supervisor, Dr. Catherine Losier, on her new project on St. Pierre et Miquelon, was simply the best option. While it is true that a multitude of factors attributed to my decision to come to MUN, I have to say that the opportunity to join in on a project that was just starting up was definitely a BIG one. I wanted to use my Master’s degree to learn as much as I possibly could, and I also really wanted to know how exactly one goes about starting a research project from scratch. The short answer I’ve come to learn? Through A LOT of hard work!
Flash back to this time last year, when I was still living and working at home in Nova Scotia, and had decided to take a week off to come and visit Newfoundland for the first time. I took this time to visit friends, tour the campus, and a get a feel for the city. I had the fantastic opportunity to volunteer for my colleague, MA Candidate Robyn Lacy (go read her awesome blog!), out at the Colony of Avalon, a National Historic Site in Ferryland. At this time, I also finally got to meet my supervisor, Catherine, face-to-face and we had a chance to discuss the work we would be doing (an assessment of the archaeological potential of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon) the following month. Realistically, back then the project was still VERY much in its early stages.
I am not going to bore you with all of the details we’ve been working on this year (you can read all about that in my other posts anyways) but I do want to stress that together we have actually made SO MUCH progress! And I am excited to say that our project is growing! This coming Fall, two absolutely incredible honours students, Maryssa Barras and Mallory Champagne will be joining the team, and I look forward to sharing aspects of our collaborative work with you in the not-too-distant future.
The thing that’s different now from my previous posts is that rather than talking about all of the excitement and the preamble, I am now quite literally in the middle of my fieldwork (a major component of my research). As of today, we are 3 weeks in of the 4 weeks of excavations taking place this summer at our chosen study area located in Anse a Bertrand, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon. As I have detailed for you all before, the bulk of the archaeological data to be used for my thesis is being retrieved during this dig under the field school, instructed by my supervisor, and for which I am acting field assistant/TA.
While I have worked on a number of different archaeological projects, both in Newfoundland and back home, and I have TA’d before as well…I must say, I have never experienced anything quite like this before. My role as both TA and as an archaeologist has fundamentally changed and this is probably because for the first time, I actually do hold a little bit of authority. In my previous field experiences, I have always just been another member of the team. In my previous TA positions, I was always stuck in a classroom carrying out typical TA responsibilities such as; organizing seminars, invigilating exams, grading, showing films, and that sort of thing. Now, however, I feel as if I am actually doing what the job title implies; I am actively helping my supervisor teach. I have finally entered that weird paradox of grad school where I am simultaneously teaching and learning ALL at the same time. I am learning how to be a teacher while simultaneously teaching the students how to be archaeologists. This, obviously, is a pretty big responsibility (although I did learn from the best). The knowledge and experience I have obtained over the years, and am now getting to share with the students, comes from a small handful of individuals. Thank you to my honours supervisor, Dr. Mikael Haller, my boss and crew at Kelman Heritage Consulting, my buddy and now colleague PhD Candidate Adrian Morrison, and of course, my amazing supervisor Dr. Catherine Losier for teaching me everything I know!
As I’ve been involved with the Saint-Pierre et Miquelon archaeology project from its very beginning, I am actually very invested in it. Over the course of the last year, I think I’ve actually been able to contribute, in at least some small way, to nearly every aspect of the work that’s been done so far. This, of course, means my initial interest and curiosity has evolved and I have come to care about this work A LOT. Additionally, as if my current position wasn’t interesting enough, I am also, as I’ve said before, currently uncovering the data to be used in my own thesis, which I aim to have complete by this time next year.
Something about fieldwork always makes me quite reflective of the past as well as the future (then again, is that kind of thinking really surprising for an archaeologist?) As you can see, I’ve carved out quite the job for myself this summer. That said, I’ve never really been one to shy away from a challenge, especially one I deem worthy of all this effort. Here, in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, things are going well. I have been blessed with a team of fast learners and I am quite pleased with the archaeology that’s been done so far. If you’d like to know more about the dig or the field school’s progress, I encourage you to check out the students’ blog on our website! You can also follow along with us on our project’s Twitter and Instagram if you’d like!
Thanks for reading,