Skip to main content
SFU Department of First Nations Studies and Archaeology

rudy smiling
I got the job and now enjoying teaching, advising students, researching and publishing on the fascinating stories that my home landscape has to tell me. I now able to share those stories with others, in the classroom, in the field and my community.


I grew up in Squamish BC, learning from elders and knowledgeable community members about Squamish Nation culture.  Many of my fondest memories are walking to downtown with my grandpa, sitting at my grand uncles kitchen table and going up the river to fish. During these formative years I was always careful to listen to what they had to say. After a time, when I was in high school I began questioning the various topics in the classes I was in, especially history, geology and other topics. There was little to no consideration of Indigenous Knowledge. I found this odd.


After graduating from high school in 1990, I took a year off to sort out what I wanted to do with the year of my life. I decided to go to Capilano College in North Vancouver to take geology, as the landscape I grew up in contains numerous and fascinating examples of volcanic activity- I wanted to know more about it. Unfortunately I did not do so well in geology, but luckily discovered archaeology, took a field school and I was hooked! I regularly had work with the numerous consulting archaeology companies across the province. This allowed me to gain much insight into how to apply knowledge and skills acquired at post secondary institutions and get a pay cheque to boot. 

It was during one such project I helped in the recording of many archaeological sites at high elevation areas of Squamish territory that my future in this filed began to truly take shape. The knowledge I gained from the elders in my community was laying on the ground in front of me, I decided to enquire the SFU Department of Archaeology about this as a Masters research topic. Over the two years of researching the role over the two years of researching the role I defended my thesis and really did not really know what to do next.


Eventually I struck out on my own and formed my own consulting archaeology company, First Heritage Archaeological Consulting. It was a fun time, but interspersed with periods of feast or famine when it came to work and contracts. 

Yet, over the five years I proved to be a quality consultant and got drawn into many of the endeavours that Squamish Nation chiefs and council were initiating. I became an important team member of the the Squamish Nation land use planning project, participated in the Ust'am/Witness project and many other jobs and contract that came my way. 

Through all of these experiences I decided that I needed and was wishing for more of an academic perspective and decided to go back to school once more. For years I had followed the work of Aubrey Cannon and contact him at McMaster university. He agreed to take me as a PhD student and there I did geochemical analysis and combined scientific knowledge with the cultural knowledge and experience of Squamish Nation territory. 

It was a great and valuable experience as it eventually lead me to apply for a job posting at SFU First Nations Studies and Archaeology. I got the job and now enjoying teaching, advising students, researching and publishing on the fascinating stories that my home landscape has to tell me. I now able to share those stories with others, in the classroom, in the field and my community. 

SFU Department of First Nations Studies and Archaeology

You Might Like These... Indigenous Co-op, Indigenous Career Journey Stories, SFU Alumni

Mike, SFU Alumni

"I have no solid plans for the future and I love it...I know that every experience that I have had, every failed plan, was really an excellent mistake that gave me the skills I need to handle any situation that gets thrown my way in the future."

A person holding a Olympic torch
Peeriodical: Olympic Sized Persistence Pays Off

If there’s someone who knows about the terrifying journey that is the work search, it is Marissa Nahanee. She was a panellist at the Indigenous Peoples Career Stories event on March 3, 2011.  Marissa has worked on many world class events, including the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Torch relay and visits by Princes Charles and Edward. But Marissa’s job did not just happen to her – she had to work for it.

Brandon painting
Brandon Gabriel | Professional Contemporary Visual Artist

Brandon is a professional Contemporary Visual Artist based in Langley. He grew up in the Kwantlen Reserve and went on to study at Kwantlen University and attained his BFA from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2006.

You Might Like These... Indigenous Career Journey Stories

Cynthia smiling
Cynthia George Taha | Registered Nurse

"With the uncertainty and changes in healthcare systems for our people and a separate health authority plan that will marginalize our people, I decided to be where my skills and services will be most beneficial." Read more to find out how a girl from Wetsuweten Nation became a leader in the Nursing field. 

David in traditional clothing during a powwow
David Neel, Jeweler and Artist

David Neel of the Kwakiutl tribe has been making Native design jewelry for 25 years. He descends from a family of first nations aritsts, including: Ellen Neel, Mungo Martin and Charlie James. A multi-media artist, David Neel makes rings, pendants, earrings and bracelets, in addition to Canadian Aboriginal art, such as masks, totem poles, paddles, bentwood boxes and paintings under the David Neel Studio. Here is an interview with him about his jounrey to become an independently employed artist and jeweler.  

Alissa smiling
Indigenous Student Success Story: Alissa Derrick

Alissa Derrick is from the Wet’suwet’en Nation located in Moircetown, British Columbia. She is currently in her last year here at SFU, working towards a double minor in Criminology and First Nation Studies.