A forensic anthropologist is looking for 100 aboriginal volunteers for a project she hopes will ultimately help police identify missing aboriginal people.
Tanya Peckmann, a professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, is conducting research that involves collecting data on facial features.
She said the data can help police accurately ID missing aboriginal people when human remains are found or create sketches of missing aboriginal children as they age.
No such database exists for native peoples throughout the world, Peckmann said.
"Without the proper tissue-depth data for aboriginal populations, that individual may have a face put on them that isn't exactly who they are and they become probably unidentified still," she said. "And that's just not the right thing to do."
Peckmann starts the process by applying a cold, clear gel on to the forehead of a subject so she can take an image between the eyebrows. She measures the tissue depth between the skin and skull using an ultrasound machine. Those measurements are used to map the skull.
When human remains are found, the maps are used to reconstruct the facial features, allowing police to identify the person.
Peckmann's project is on hold because her team is having trouble finding aboriginal volunteers in Nova Scotia.
The team has contacted several Mi'kmaq communities and organizations around the province, but so far, researchers haven't found anyone willing to participate.
"We need the volunteers in order to collect the data," Peckmann said. "Until we get about 100 people coming forward, we're just kind of waiting in the wings and hoping someone will ask us to come into their community."
She hopes volunteers will come forward this fall, after the summer holiday.