Archaeological Investigations Conducted For the Gahcho Kué Project

Jean Bussey (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2012-003)

Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. (Points West) conducted archaeological investigations for De Beers Canada Inc. (De Beers) at Kennady Lake, the location of the proposed Gahcho Kué Project.  Kennady Lake is situated approximately 280 km northeast of Yellowknife and 140 km north of Łutselk’e. Jean Bussey directed the investigations under Class 2 Northwest Territories Archaeological Permit 2012-003.  She was assisted by Brenda Michel of the Lutselk’e Dene First Nation.  Points West previously conducted work at Kennady Lake for De Beers in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010.

The objectives of the 2012 field investigation included archaeological potential assessment and limited ground reconnaissance.  These investigations were prompted by minor revisions to the original Project footprint – the identification of a pipeline that would divert water from Kennady Lake to a small lake to the east and the identification of possible dykes.  No new archaeological sites were discovered and low archaeological potential is identified in association with the pipeline and the small eastern lake.  No new archaeological sites were found near the proposed dykes, but previously recorded sites are located nearby. In addition, there is archaeological potential at landforms near some of the potential dyke locations.  If construction is proposed, locations with archaeological sites or with archaeological potential will require additional investigation – either site survey or site protection/mitigation.

Using techniques employed along the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road, three sites along the winter access between Mackay and Kennady lakes were marked to assist in protecting them during winter use.  Wooden survey markers were installed at KkNq-6, KkNq-10 and KkNq-28.  The markers were sprayed with fluorescent orange paint to make them more visible when there is snow cover. These locations will be monitored in the summer after each winter of use.

De Beers sponsored workshops that were held at Kennady Lake during the summer and early fall of 2012; one was an archaeological workshop.  Representatives of six First Nations groups attended: Deninu Kue First Nation, Łutselk’e Dene First Nation, North Slave Métis Alliance, Northwest Territories Métis Nation, Tłı̨chǫ Government and Yellowknives Dene First Nation.  The archaeology workshop included a demonstration of how a lithic scatter is created as well as a display of some of the artifacts collected from the Project area.  Other workshops included tours of the project footprint via boat, a wildlife monitoring station, and aerial reconnaissance of the Kennady Lake watershed and specific proposed developments.

An archaeological management plan was prepared, reviewed by the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, revised, and submitted in October 2012.  The plan includes archaeological measures that will be undertaken if the Gahcho Kué Project is approved.  These measures include surface collection, subsurface excavation, monitoring, and site protection and will be updated whenever there are changes in the development plans.

(Edited by Shelley Crouch, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre)