British Columbia

Northern B.C. anthropologist's new magazine examines links between people and places

Culturally Modified magazine explores the different ways people value physical landscapes.

Culturally Modified explores the different ways people value physical landscapes

Culturally Modified magazine founder Rick Budhwa is an applied anthropologist based out of Smithers, B.C., who also teaches anthropology, archeology, history and sociology at the local college. (Crossroads Cultural Resource Management)

As an anthropologist who works to bridge gaps between industry, Indigenous groups and government in northern British Columbia, Rick Budhwa knows there are many different ways to think about physical space.

Now he's launched a new magazine to explore those ideas further.

"You could be a skier or snowboarder and have such a profound connection to a place," he explained of his work as an applied anthropologist.

"And you walk up one day and there's a fence up because somebody's permitted it and they now own it. You're going to experience a loss. ... How do we measure that?"

Culturally Modified will be published four times a year, with each issue focused on a specific theme. Issue two will be titled "World Views." (Culturally Modifed)

Culturally Modified seeks to answer that question and others about people's connections to their environment.

The first issue includes an article about what motivated residents to stay in their homes during a wildfire evacuation this past summer, a story about Witsuwit'en headstone pulls and a reflection from archeologist Joanne Hammond about a project that imagined what roadside heritage signs in B.C. would look like if they were written from an Indigenous perspective.

Joanne Hammond, who started an online campaign to rewrite 'stops of interest' signs to include precolonial and Indigenous history, is one of the first contributors to Culturally Modified. (Joanne Hammond/Republic of Archaeology)

At his day job, Budhwa works with clients ranging from BC Hydro and Chevron to the Kitsumkalum First Nation and Simon Fraser University, to come up with ways to balance the desire to develop natural resources with the more intangible values people place on the physical landscapes they call home. 

He views the magazine as an extension of that work, helping people understand different perspectives on the land across Canada.

"There's forestry, there's mining, there's LNG ... fish and water and trees," he said. 

There really isn't a medium or a forum for discussion on these topics because it's an extremely diverse and wide-ranging field- Rick Budhwa

"But there's this whole other world of cultural resource management... people's connections to a place, people's emotions, all of the intangibles. ... There really isn't a medium or a forum for discussion on these topics because it's an extremely diverse and wide-ranging field." 

Budhwa said the online magazine may expand to physical copies depending on the demand, but for now he's happy to use a format that can reach people in remote locations across the country where issues around resource development tend to play out. 

"We have contributions from around the country," he said. "That bodes very well for us."

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