Chelsea Meloche

M.A.: University of Windsor, 2014

B.A.: University of Windsor, 2010

Supervisor: Dr. George Nicholas

Research Areas: repatriation, restorative justice, critical cultural heritage studies, collaborative and decolonizing research strategies in archaeology and biological anthropology

Ph.D. Research:

My dissertation project seeks to explore the effects of repatriation on receiving communities and, more generally, to consider the role of repatriation for reconciliation efforts today. My overarching research question asks what happens after a repatriation is “completed”? To explore this, I am working with several First Nations communities in Canada to examine their experiences with repatriation and the work involved. My goal for this work is to contribute to a better understanding of how both repatriation itself and the process(es) involved may affect those seeking the return of their ancestors, belongings, and cultural knowledge.  

This project developed from previous work related to the 2014 repatriation of ancestors from the University of Windsor to Walpole Island First Nation (WIFN) in Ontario. From 2012–2014, I worked with members of each to facilitate the return of those ancestors, document the process of return, and consider its importance to those involved in negotiations. In June 2014, I was invited to attend the reburial ceremony alongside other representatives from the University. That the repatriation was able to be completed during my research was very fortunate as it provided me with the opportunity to witness the significant impact that it had on the community. My thesis work identified important outcomes like opportunities to share traditional knowledge across generations, create and sustain community relationships, and fulfill obligations to the ancestors, as motivations for repatriation. This work began to document the knowledge of those involved and will inform the development of an internal protocol for repatriation.

MA Thesis: Repatriation as Knowledge and Process: An Engaged Approach.


Conference Presentations:

2018 (Hogg, E.A., C.H. Meloche, G.P. Nicholas, and J.R. Welch) Heritage is a Human Right: Righting Wrongs in Canadian Heritage Policy. Paper presented at the Law and Society Association Meeting, Toronto, ON

2018 (Meloche, C.H.) What Happens Next? Repatriation as an Essential Part of Reconciliation. Paper presented in the “Learning from the Ancestors II: Collaboration and Community Engagement” session at the 51st Annual Meeting of the Canadian Archaeological Association, Winnipeg, MB

2017 (Meloche, C.H.) Finding Skeletons in Our Closets: Legacy Collections and Repatriation. Paper presented at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, BC

2016 (Meloche, C.H.) What Happens Next? Assessing the Impacts of Repatriation on Descendant Communities in Canada. Poster presented at the Indigenous International Repatriation Conference, hosted by the Association on American Indian Affairs, Albuquerque, NM

2016 (Meloche, C.H.) Some Realities of Repatriation: A Case for Engaged Anthropology from Ontario. Paper presented in the “Students of the IPinCH Project: Research at the Crossroads of Archaeology and Anthropology” session at the 76th Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, Vancouver, BC

2013 (Meloche, C.H., and J. Albanese). The Archaeology of Southern Ontario Archaeology: A Case Study of the Rickley Site. Poster presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology, Toronto, ON

Other Publications:

[In press] (Meloche, C.H., and L. Spake) Ancestral Human Remains in Legacy Collections: Research Opportunities and Ethical Responsibility. Proceedings of the 50th Annual Chacmool Conference, Calgary, AB.

2017 (Meloche, C.H.) Review of ‘Breaking Ground: The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Unearthing of Tse-whit-zen Village.’ Canadian Journal of Archaeology 41(1): 128–131.

2015 (Meloche, C.H.) Returning Ancestral Remains: Lessons Learned from the Rickley Collection. Online blog post for IPinCH: Intellectual Property Rights in Cultural Heritage, November 25, 2015.