Corey Hutchings, has worked in cultural resource management for the past five years and has participated in additional archaeological and heritage research since 2002. Mr. Hutchings holds a Bachelor of Arts with honours in Anthropology and a Masters degree in Archaeology from Memorial University. His research interests have primarily been the archaeology of the Arctic’s prehistoric people with a focus on the Labrador Archaic. He has participated in various cultural resource management and academic research projects on the Island of Newfoundland, Southern and Northern Labrador, the Aleutian Islands and Baffin Island. He is a registered archaeological permit holder for the province and has held permits and directed projects. Most recently he has been working for Stantec, specifically on the Churchill River excavating archaeology sites that would have been lost due to the construction of the Lower Churchill Project.
How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your degree?
Living in the center of St. John’s, I grew up around Memorial University. Attending university there allowed me to stay close to home and help out my family.
What drew you to do a degree in archaeology?
I have always liked reading about the past and came straight from high school with an interest in archaeology/history. In fact I was lucky enough to participate in a cooperative learning program in grade 12 that let me spend afternoons at the university working with archaeological materials. This is the opposite story of most of the archaeologists that I have met, who say that they went to university with an entirely different profession in mind and happened across a favourite archaeology course and got hooked.
Do any particular memories stand out from your time here as an undergraduate/graduate student?
The experiences I have had visiting places like Labrador, Baffin Island and the Aleutian Islands are priceless and I will never forget them. In contrast to these far flung travels some of my favourite nights were sitting at a table in Big Ben’s discussing (or arguing about) a paper or artifact with students and professors.
If you could do any course over again what would it be?
During my undergrad I was lucky enough to take a hands on course which focused on the analysis and production of stone tools. This course showed me all the things that I really enjoyed and appreciated about archaeology. Figuring out how you would go about making a tool, following the decision-making process of someone in the past, and designing a question that helps you understand how people lived.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
As weird as it seems, the best piece of advice I received was “show up and be interested.” During the first year of my undergrad I never felt as if I had a real community at the university. I fell into the habit of just attending my classes and heading home. In one of my early archaeology courses I heard about FABS (Friday Afternoon Beer Sessions), the weekly archaeology talks. Being in my first year I wasn’t sure if I would be welcome or get anything out of the lecture but the graduate student instructor assured me that I just needed to fill a chair and listen. It was attending these talks and the discussion after that introduced me to friends that I have to this day and let me make contacts with other archaeologists.
Many people might be surprised that you an archaeologist, work full time for Stantec, Engineering. Can you explain how that came about and what sort of work you do for them?
Stantec is a large company that works in a variety of areas including engineering, environmental sciences, project management, etc. This approach to all aspects of completing projects means that they must employ archaeologists to complete protection and mitigation of cultural resources. My work for them consists of testing areas that may contain unknown archaeological remains, the excavation of known archaeological sites that will be disturbed, and suggesting ways that disruption to cultural resources can be avoided.
I came to work for them due to a need for an archaeologist that had experience working with the different archaeological cultures of the province. The experience I gained through my time at Memorial University was integral to me being able to fulfill this role.
What do you say to those who question the value of a degree in the humanities and social sciences?
I don’t know if it is only because I am in a bubble but I think this belief is starting to fade. The ability to think, plan, learn, and communicate seem to be becoming more important than the specific “training” you learn during your degree. The countless non-archaeology skills that I developed to finish my degree including the use of statistical analysis programs, survey equipment and explaining my work to a general audience have stood me in good stead in my career.
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
People are often surprised to hear I have eaten raw narwhal. I work alongside many people from the North and I am willing to try many local traditional foods. Once while working in Milne Inlet, Baffin Island some of the local assistant archaeologists offered me the dish of raw narwhal meat. After trying a few small pieces and taking the advice of adding soya sauce I still can’t say it was my favourite meal.
What advice would you give a student who is unsure of what to study?
There is more to your degree than only the subject matter. Departments have a personality, finding people that share your interest in a topic and are willing to help you and participate in your progression counts for a lot. Be willing to experiment and take classes outside your comfort zone; there is research taking place around you that you would never know about unless you are willing to go looking for it.
What is your favourite place to visit.
Main Face, Flatrock. I like to rock climb, and despite all the great bonus of working in the North it usually means that I miss out on summer activities. This makes it all the better when the weather cooperates and I can get an early spring or late fall climb in.
What are you reading and listening to these days?
I am currently doing lab work and have been working my way through audio books at an incredible rate. I am 12 books deep in Terry Prachett’s Disc World series, which I cannot recommend enough. I also have a love of non-fiction expedition books and Kelly Cordes’ The Tower: a Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre is a great book that touches on the history and nationalism of first ascents
What are you most looking forward to within the next year?
I am already planning for my next stretch of field work in Labrador, I can’t wait to get back in the field and see what new sites and artifacts are going to be found this year. An added bonus to this year’s work in Goose Bay, is that after completing the Trapline half marathon last year I have started training for the 2016 full marathon.