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CBC News | 19Dec2011 | Staff

Archeology report criticizes human rights museum
Winnipeg museum officials ignored 'heritage resource management' recommendations

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has been criticized for the way archeological digs were handled at the construction site, according to a report the museum has refused to release.

CBC News has obtained part of the 800-page archeological report, which contains a consulting firm's findings from a 2008 dig conducted at the downtown Winnipeg site where the museum is being built.

The dig was the first done at the museum site. However, the report does not contain any recommendations for going forward, as its authors said museum officials have ignored their previous recommendations.

"The organizations involved in the construction of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights have demonstrated that they will not be bound by the terms of heritage permits," the report states in part.

"Recommendations for reasonable heritage resource management practices were ignored during and after the mitigative excavation project. More of the same would be as futile as King Canute railing against the tide."

The archeologist who worked on the report retired midway through the project, sources told CBC News.

First Nation history may be buried, expert fears

Leigh Syms, another retired archeologist who has seen parts of the report, said he worries the history of eight ancient First Nations that occupied the area is getting buried.

Syms said he wants the museum to release the archeological report in its entirety, as it has the potential to change the history of ancient First Nations.

"They have a responsibility to the First Nations whose heritage it is, and they have a responsibility to the public and researchers to make it available, to be shared, [the] new insights," he said.

"The heritage that's there is unique; it will change history, so it's this really exciting thing and yet they have refused to share it."

Angela Cassie, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, told CBC News the report will be released after officials finish analyzing subsequent digs and "have a more complete picture of all the activities that were undertaken."

Cassie said archeological digs continued until this past spring, so it's important that the public gets a complete historical picture of what went on at the museum site.

More than 500,000 artifacts have been recovered from the area, she added.