Education & Outreach

Education and Outreach at ARA

ARA has an enduring commitment to archaeological and heritage education in Ontario. We are pleased to provide education, outreach, and seminar programs customized to individual needs.

Dr. Dean Knight is Professor Emeritus of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. This appointment reflects a career of shaping the University's archaeology curriculum and training more than two generations of practicing field archaeologists. Under Dean's direction, the Wilfrid Laurier University archaeological field schools were the starting point for a significant proportion of the professionals now working in the field. Members of the ARA staff regularly accept contractual faculty positions in the Archaeology and Heritage Studies Department at WLU.

ARA has strong ties to the Heritage Resources Centre, an institute at the University of Waterloo devoted to heritage education, the provision of heritage services, and the development of effective heritage policy. The core of the Heritage Team at ARA have been, and remain, pivotal contributors to the research, publication, and education work of the Centre.

ARA has broad expertise in presenting the methods and goals of archaeological and heritage investigation to all levels of experience. In cooperation with Huronia Historical Parks and Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, ARA has presented primary- and secondary-school programs, including opportunities to excavate on an historically-accurate simulated site. ARA provides a suite of short courses to First-Nations communities wishing to enhance their participation in the engagement process. ARA offers short courses in skeletal identification and forensic recovery to law-enforcement and emergency-services personnel.

Please consult the links below or contact our office to discuss your archaeological, heritage, engagement, or forensics education or outreach needs.

Cultural Heritage, Archaeology, and Planning (CHAP) Symposium

Archaeological Research Associates Ltd. (ARA) hosts an annual Cultural Heritage, Archaeology, and Planning (CHAP) Symposium for our clients and friends. The purpose of the symposium is to explore relevant and timely themes and questions in the fields of cultural heritage, archaeology, and planning. The event includes presentations, panel discussions, facilitated discussions, and demonstration booths.

Please explore past topics featured at the Symposium here:

Education and Seminars

ARA is passionate about education. Many of our staff are highly experienced educators and regularly give talks about Ontario’s archaeology and cultural heritage; geared to all ages and audiences. Please review some of the topic areas proposed below or contact the office to explore seminar or outreach ideas.


ARA is pleased to participate in a variety of outreach programs and community initiatives. Our team members serve on the decision-making bodies of professional associations that help shape our industry. ARA takes an active role in:

  • Turtle Island News Earth Day Festival - ARA has been part of the Turtle Island Earth Day Festival at Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River, since 2013. Artifacts discovered during archaeological assessments within the region are displayed for community members and attendees to view and interact with. ARA staff enjoy the opportunity to discuss the finds, exchange stories with participants, and showcase the archaeology of Southern Ontario.
  • City of Kitchener’s Earth Day at Huron Natural Area - Following a multi-year, Stage 1-4 assessment of a large 500-year-old Neutral village site in the Huron Natural Area, ARA assisted the City of Kitchener with a protection strategy that integrated the site into the city park. ARA has participated in archaeologically-themed Earth Day outreach activities in the site.
  • Mohawk Institute Survivors Gathering - ARA has participated in the Survivors Gathering at the Mohawk Institute former Residential School since 2017. The annual event, which coincides with Orange Shirt Day, focuses on remembering and acknowledging Residential School Survivors. ARA presents a public-archaeology opportunity in which ARA staff lead volunteers in the on-going archaeological excavations at the site. Survivors, their families, and attendees are invited to learn more about the archaeology and history of the property during the Healing Walk.
  • Kitchener Public Library Local Indigenous History and Culture Bike Tour - In 2015, ARA partnered with the Kitchener Public Library (KPL) to create an informative walking/cycling map of the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Local Indigenous history and culture was highlighted in distributed literature during Indigenous History Month (June) and was used to guide walking and cycling tours.
  • Onkwehón:we Festival - Begun in 2018, the Onkwehón:we Original Peoples' Festival is a free cultural event that showcases art of the Haudenosaunee and other Indigenous Nations on the grounds of the Woodland Cultural Centre and Mohawk Institute former Residential School. ARA has participated in the event since its inception, presenting collections of artifacts from the area and leading volunteers in ongoing excavations on the festival grounds. The exquisite objects from the archaeological past underscore the deep tradition of art and innovation among Ontario's first peoples.
  • Heritage and Archaeology Board Work - Members of the ARA team hold leadership positions in a number of professional associations. Our staff sit on the boards of: the Ontario Association of Heritage Professionals (OAHP), the Ontario Archaeological Society (OAS), and local Municipal Heritage Committees. Several team members are coordinators and volunteers for Jane’s Walks and Doors Open Ontario.

Volunteer Initiatives

Current: The Mohawk Institute

ARA has a leadership role in the Ontario Archaeological Society’s work at the Mohawk Institute/Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario. The Mohawk Institute is a former residential school. Locally known as the “Mush Hole,” it was notorious for its treatment of Indigenous children while it was in operation between 1828 and 1970.

In recent years, the Woodland Cultural Centre, located on the grounds of the Mush Hole, has embarked on a “Save the Evidence” campaign to ensure that the building will endure as a monument to the victims who passed through its doors.

ARA is organizing archaeological work on the property to recover and document materials in advance of planned improvements at the site.

Past: Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church National Historic Site, Township of Oro-Medonte

Starting in 2015, ARA donated crews and expertise to complete archaeological assessment of the Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church. Built during the 1840s, the church served an African Canadian community established in Oro following their military contribution during the War of 1812. The wood-framed church and surrounding cemetery is a National Historic Site. The church has been preserved and raised by the Township onto a new foundation.

Follow the remarkable story of the Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church here:

  • Archaeological work began at the church in earnest in the autumn of 2015.
  • CTV News coverage of the archaeological investigation.
  • The church reopened in August, 2106 with considerable fanfare and to the delight of the community.
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