Archaeological dig begins at Ambassador Bridge site owned by Walpole Island First Nation

Ambassador Bridge has to pay for archaeological dig before it can build second span on indigenous land.

The Canadian Transit Company is funding the $1 million-plus project

Archeologists with AECOM dig for indigenous artifacts in the back yard of a property on Indian Road owned by the Canadian Transit Company. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Work has officially started on an archaeological dig where the new span of the Ambassador Bridge will be built.

The Ambassador Bridge and Walpole Island First Nation have joined together to investigate the archaeological potential of the construction site at the new Ambassador Bridge span location.

The work is mandated by the Canadian government as a condition for the permit to build the bridge.

The land is owned by the Walpole Island First Nation which hired AECOM, an archeological firm from Richmond Hill.

The Canadian Transit Company is funding the project — which is expected to cost more than $1 million. It will allow Walpole officials and AECOM to conduct archeological mitigation in the area of Villa Maria, Indian Road and a small bit of land between University Ave. and Riverside Drive.  

"This project will allow them to investigate, document and celebrate both this important archeological site and their long history in their traditional territory," said CTC president Dan Stamper.

AECOM Senior Archaeologist Charlton Carscallen and Walpole Island First Nation chief Dan Miskokomon discuss the importance of the archaeological dig. 1:04

"We are very excited for this project which will help us to reconnect with, uncover, and share our rich history along the Detroit River area, which was integral to our traditional commerce and travel activities," said Daniel Miskokomon, Walpole Island First Nation chief.

The land is currently part of a land claim put forward by the Walpole Island First Nation. Consultation Manager Dean Jacobs said they are seeking compensation in either money or "other benefits."

Even though the First Nation needs to grant permission for the bridge span to be built, Jacobs said that will likely happen after the dig is done.

"We aren't going to kick the bridge out," said Jacobs.